Justice Is Blind

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on October 24, 2013 in News & Opinion |

Education is not cheap, no matter where a person decides to study, there are costs involved which can tie a person to repayments for many, many years. The United States, with its Student Loans, is no different to Europe and, especially, Germany, where loans are constantly on offer to those with the right qualifications and abilities to study but who cannot afford the cost of several years in a college or university. In Germany there is BAföG (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz) which, since 2006, offers potential students a loan of about five hundred Euro for each semester they study. In the past few days this loan law has come under scrutiny and brought forth a new decision from the European courts on precisely who is eligible for such a loan.

Viktoria Michaelis: European Union: Student Loans

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The latest case revolves around a young man, born and raised in Brazil of German parents, living in Istanbul and wishing to study in Holland whose application for a student loan in Germany was refused. Previously there were two other cases, both of which were refused in the initial instance because the students did not meet the requirement of three years residence in Germany prior to their application. In the second two cases the European court ruled that the students should be granted student loans and that the three-year requirement failed to take into account how much of a connection the applicant had with Germany, regardless of how long they had lived in the country. And the first case?

Here the European court has also ruled against the bureaucrats stating that a close connection to Germany for citizens – through birth alone, for example, but without any form of residence – could not be measured exclusively on how long a person has lived in the country, or whether they had lived in Germany at all. They are of the opinion that many other forms of integration into German society exist, even for those who have never lived in Germany but hold a German passport.

Viktoria Michaelis: European Union: Student Loans

Photo Credit: SalFalkoCreative Commons

The court in Hannover must now review their criteria over who is German enough to receive a student loan, and whether the mere holding of a German passport along with the necessary language or other similar abilities, is enough to prove integration within German society and, through this new form of integration, the right to be given a loan.

Student loans were granted to nearly a million students in Germany in 2012 alone. That number, with this new ruling, could explode over the coming years, even when the students themselves have never set foot on German soil and do not intend studying in Germany or, more important from a financial point of view, working in the country once their studies are concluded.

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  • François says:

    Anybody who will be making EUR 3 500 a month after graduation is German enough to get 500 during studies. Greed-based choice of schools and education is all the rage now with young people in Europe.

    • This creates a series of problems for countries which offer student loans: is the student going to work in their country and earn such sums to the benefit of the country which has financed their studies? It’s all very well saying that a student could potentially earn a good salary after graduation, but the State will want to benefit from their investment, through taxes or use of that persons’ qualifications and experience.

      • François says:

        It is a loan and the state does not expect an indirect return but a very real refund with interest. Ask any (student) loan-slave in the US: they are doomed to accept just any job to service their debt for up to twenty years. Or go bankrupt. Employers know and exploit this.

        • Of course, as a very basic return. That said, if someone is born overseas, lives overseas and studies overseas, how is the loan-giver going to be able to guarantee repayment when the successful student finishes their course of study and then works overseas?

          • François says:

            That depends on treaties. As a Canadian, I am liable for my debts across Europe, the Americas, NATO members, and Google knows where else. A bankruptcy judgment pronounced in Canada would be executed (at my cost) by a bailiff in Argentina. Admittedly, slowly.
            However, there are no such treaties between Canada and Ukraine. I could presumably build a huge debt in Canada and then come back here and never pay.
            Not that I would ever imagine using this wonderful opportunity malicious scheme.
            You raise an even bigger issue: brain drain. Some countries educate their people, or foreigners, at little or no cost to see them run away with ink still wet on diplomas, to other countries that would rather spend on military than a half-decent, and free, education system.

            • The brain drain is one of the biggest problems, since all debts can, and many are, written off. Germany and many other European countries are actively seeking well and highly educated workers, right down to the tempoary Green Card solution. To invest in slmeone who may never repay the debt through their active work is a loss leader no one desires.

  • François says:

    Education for all, as far as they can and will go, should be free. I consider it a basic human right.
    A tolerable life in the home country would help fight brain drain.

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