Student Welfare

Higher Education is one of the most important areas in recent public policies. Reason for it we can find in the fact that contemporary welfare states are in crisis. This crisis is caused by demographical and economical changes, aging of population, longer live expectancy and structural changes. Following that changes, contemporary and future society puts focus on new generation of people: high educated and with different skills and abilities to adapt to the flexible market economy. For that reason, educational policy needs to be improved and educational practices should help young people to enter, stay and finish their study.

European projects (Erusmus+ project, Bologna process and European Higher Education Area), that are trying to improve educational practices in Europe, find social dimension of the education as an integral part of educational process. In that context, social dimension is recently one of the very important issues in education policy and in scientific area (European Commission, EACEA, 2011:7). One approve for it we can find in European Union documents.  Social dimension was directly mentioned in Prague Communique, 2001[1], Berlin Communique, 2003[2] and Bergen Communique, 2005[3]. In Bergen Communique, we find definition that social dimension is “making quality higher education equally accessible to all, and stress the need for appropriate conditions for students so that they can complete their studies without obstacles related to their social and economic background. The social dimension includes measures taken by governments to help students, especially from disadvantaged groups, in financial and economic aspects and to provide them with guidance and counselling services with a view to widening access.” (Bergen Communique, 2005:4). Also, Working group on Social Dimension and Data on Mobility of Staff and Students within Bologna Process (WG) developed before presented definition and emphasized that social dimension improving is based on the properly functioning and well-resourced public systems, what includes involvement of many actors and all relevant stakeholders. There should be more equal opportunity (especially for all students to successfully enter, carry out and complete their studies); reinforcing the social, cultural and economic development of our societies and enhances the quality and attractiveness of European Higher Education (WG, 2005: 1-2). Thereby, social dimension means affirmation of equally accession of higher education to all, appropriate studying and living conditions, government’s measures to provide students with guidance and counselling services, students participation in Higher Education governance and government measures to help students, especially from socially disadvantaged groups in financial and economic aspects (WG, 2005: 1-3).

So defined social dimension leads us to the student’s social welfare. It is a term that is not clearly defined and is not in regular use. We can find some students welfare offices, mostly in Australia and New Zealand, and in Australia we find even social welfare policy from 1986.[4] There is definition that student social welfare includes everything the (school) community does to meet the personal, social and learning needs of students and enhance the well-being; creates a safe, caring school environment in which students are nurtured as they learn, provides opportunities for students to enjoy success and recognition. So it becomes a place where students can learn and grow with confidence, what brings them to better success.

The need for students well-being is also present in educational policy and some surveys (Ross, Bathurst and Jarden, 2012) and it is connected with better academic success.  Student’s well-being is more used term in educational practice and usually means support from academic  stuff and environment, but also is not clear in definition what factors should be included in well-being and mostly exclude policy actions that can help students. In that context, we can find student welfare as a broader term.

In conclusion, we can find that there is no clear meaning of social dimension of education, student’s well-being or student’s welfare. What is clear, is the recognition of need to improve student’s well-being, social dimension of education and commonly, social welfare as a broader term (Hudson, 2013). Recent description leads us to find what should be done, from different actors to reach that goal.

Although social dimension of education is very important, some, but not too many studies are focusing on social dimension and student’s well-being. We will present some of findings or methods that we find useful for our survey.

One study focused on social dimension: PL4SD (Peer learning for the social dimension) that is in progress (2014-2015)[5], is based on the London Communique social dimension definition. As key factors for educational success they stress “student ability; material and immaterial (e. g. social and cultural) resources and opportunity”. Also, non-academic factors, as social background and study framework conditions, e. g. balance between work and studies, are important (PL4SD, 2014). Social dimension they operate in 8 categories of objectives: student support, widening access, retention and success, monitoring and evaluation, combining study and work, international mobility, lifelong learning and 11 (policy) measures: Counseling and support services, Student financial support, Funding incentives for institutions, Counselling and support services, Teaching and learning, Information campaigns, Alternative entry routes, Cooperation with schools, Data collection and research and cooperation with others, Flexible incentives for institution, Alternative entry routes, Enrolment policies (PL4SD, Info sheet, 2014: 4).

More studies are focused on student’s satisfaction, what is also interesting and leads to the student’s well-being (Asgari, Borzooei, 2014: 138). Alzamel (2014) stresses: “Higher Education should focus on student satisfaction due to its potential influence on the student motivation, recruitment, efforts, retention, and fundraising. Clearly, ensuring student satisfaction should be the main objective of higher learning institutions.” (Alzamel, 2014: 16).

So, Alzamel (2014) who has based his research framework on Firdaus (2005) brings definition on student satisfaction as “attitude that students derive from their evaluation of academic and non-academic related services that they are offered by their institutions” (Alzamel, 2014: 19). Asgari and Borzooei (2014) are bringing another satisfaction definition, according to Kotler et. Al (2009.) Satisfaction is explained as “a person’s feeling of pleasure or disappointment resulting from comparing a product’s perceived performance (or outcome) in relation to his expectations” (Asgari and Borzooei, 214:138). So, they are focusing on students expectation, what students find as important and desirable and difference that realities brings. Simmilary, Li Wei-Mai (2005) stresses connection between expectation and satisfaction, whereby student’s expectation determine student’s satisfaction. In his analyze, he finds that there are different approaches in measuring students satisfaction. His study showed that “although in overall terms students are satisfied with the education they received, the disparity found in this study revealed an interesting insight into this service sector” (Ibid: 874).

Asgari and Borzooei (2014) think that responsibility for student satisfaction comes from the university: “students’s overall satisfaction comes from sum of student’s academic, social, physical and spiritual value experiences as a product of the university”(Ibidem).  Băcilă et al. (2014) also started with position that “students’ satisfaction is influenced by the degree to which higher education institutions meet or exceed their expectations” (Ibid, 841). They have proposed model according to the fact that determinants of partial student satisfaction simultaneously manifest in the overall satisfaction, so it should be considered that an individual approach to them, would partially cover the issue being studied. They took a number of factors that” allow the assessment of student satisfaction with a wide range of services provided by business education institutions and relate to: educational process, administrative staff, admission process (information, staff), management of the faculty, image of the faculty, library, general information, cafeteria, campus climate, tutors, collaboration between, faculty and business environment, international cooperation, leisure activities supported by the faculty”. (Ibid, 841). In conclusion, they still stress problems with general model that could reach all areas of students’ satisfaction and different findings in recent studies (Ibid, 851). De Lourdes et al. (2011) looked into different periods of study and were conducting degree of importance and satisfaction on the beginning (motivation to enter the university), temporary satisfaction with academics and processes and services and finally with the course of the study, institution, employability and social prestige. (De Lourdes, 2011, 423-425). Thomas and Galambos (2004) present that previous research on student satisfaction were focused on the characteristics of students and institutions that influence, on identifying the campus services within students are more and less satisfied and examination how satisfaction is related to other outcomes such as academic achievement and retention. They found that college experience has an impact on general satisfaction; nonacademic aspects of college are more important to students who are less academically engaged than they are to those more engaged. Social integration and pre-enrollment opinions are also important, campus services and facilities have limited effects, and students’demographic characteristics are not significant predictors (Ibid, 251). Colleges with good reputation are more interesting places for top students, but structures such as learning communities that promote social integration may have a greater effect on the satisfaction of less high achieving students (Ibidem).

This analysis shows that student satisfaction is important while it brings students to better academic achievements and their well-being. Students satisfaction tells us what student expect from educational institutions and how they evaluate that what they receive. Factors that have influence on satisfaction can be academic (based on the teaching quality) and non-academic (staff, environment, services). While the academic mostly are very important, non-academic have different influence on students satisfaction. What kind of them and how to measure it is question that leads us in our WISE study.

 Student services and their quality

Student services are non‑academic factors that influence on student satisfaction and are part of student welfare (and social dimension of education). Student satisfaction we can measure by measuring service quality, while there seems to be positive relationship between the perception of educational services quality and student satisfaction (Băcilă et al. (2014,842; Douglas et al. (2006:254). Lewis and Booms (1983:100) defined service quality as a “measure of how well the service level delivered matches the customer’s expectations”. That is why it is good to use methods that were developed for measuring service quality. Also, for measuring service quality we can find some general accepted models and instruments (f. i. namely HEdPERF, SERVPERF and the moderating scale of HEdPERFSERVPERF, SERVQUAL), while for measuring students satisfaction there is no such model (Gibson, 2010,Tan and Kek, 2004, Parasuraman et al., 1988). For instance, SERVQUAL model (service quality model), measures “the difference between what is expected from a service encounter and the perception of the actual service encounter” (according to Parasuraman et al., 1988; Ibid, 17). It is called “the disconfirmation paradigm”, and operationalised  in formula Service Quality (Q) =Perception (P) -Expectation (E). It contains 22 items and each item is measuring both the perception and the expectation of a particular service attribute (Ibid, 17). Tan and Kek have formulated lists of educational service indicators and made matrix on importance and satisfactory and found that the satisfaction grid serves as a useful map for management decision making (Tan and Kek, 2004, 20).

Nadiri et al. (2011) are developing concept of “zone of tolerance”, proposed by Parasuraman (2004).  Concept includes the difference between desired service (hope and expectation) and adequate service (acceptance as sufficiency). In this zone of tolerance is possible to find range of expectations that show willingness to accept variations in service delivery (desired and adequate level) (Nadiri et al., 2011: 114).  Measurement model proposed by Nadiri et al. was called HEDZOT (High education Zone of Tolerance), adapted from Zeithaml et al. (1993). (Ibid, 116). It determines service variations in Higher Education and helps to analyze effectiveness of service quality in Higher Education. According to their study, it is recommended to maintain service according to the student’s desired expectation. (Ibid, 122 -123).
These presented studies are showing that it is very important to diagnose service delivery and to find what activities are influential on student’s satisfaction. All of them have shown that non-academic factors are also important. In that area we can find social support as one important tool. For example, Tait (2000) stresses that social support is important for the open and distance learning. For him, typical support services for students may be: admission and pre-study advisory services, tutoring, guidance and counselling services, assessment of prior learning and credit transfer, library services, information management and other administrative systems, differentiated services for students with special needs of one sort or another e.g. disability, programme planning or career development (Ibid, 289). For Chavajay (2005) social support includes two subscales: socioemotional support  (e.g., listen and talk with you whenever you feel lonely or depressed) and instrumental support (e.g., provide necessary information to help orient you to your new surroundings) (Ibid,  670).
Social support also seems to be important for foreign students while they are challenged by the acculturation stress so social support can help to increase their social, physical, and psychological well-being (Chavajay, 2013: 667).
Finnaly, Archambault (2008) in his study of social support found that students expect more from universities. That includes from administrators to be more visible and to interact with the students, appealing campus facilities, quality/modern equipment and prompt service, have modern equipment, make more group activities (Archambault, 2008:42).

In recent 30 years education sector has become very important sector. Today’s society needs to have enough educated people (especially if we want economic and social growth). So, nowadays the main goal of universities is to attract and retain students. That’s why, universities are offering even more and more services: academic and non-academic. While the academic are, so to say, the most important, in recent society and for new youth generation that is coming from consumeristic society, non-academic service are even more important. And to give them better services and social support, the whole community must be involved, not just education institution. Further, if policy makers and education managers want to plan adequate supply, they must consider students’ needs and wishes. They must be objective. Scientific surveys and projects as WISE want to give them information, what kind of desires, expectation and needs do student have. Therefore, in recent years many studies are focused on the examination of student’s needs and perception of social services, their expected and perceived quality and other factors that can be helpful for student’s well-being. According to those results, we can develop student welfare, e.g. student well-being in a broader sense.

The Student Welfare in Europe

Student Welfare in Europe has many variations: in some countries it has high priority, while in others it is harder for students to get the help they need. Many things have been done, but there is still a long way to go before all students enjoy the same opportunities.

At European level the majority of the work has been done during the 1980s, when there was a general boom for international work and international solidarity, not only in the political sphere, but also in the culture.

At a European level, the most important organization in charge of creating “a platform for cooperation between the national school student unions” is OBESSU (Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions). OBESSU was founded in 1975 in Ireland by students from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, United Kingdom and Ireland, and during the following years all the other European countries joined the organization. The OBESSU Board is composed by students or young people with hands on experiences of the reality at the universities. They can therefore better understand the students’ needs and complaints.  The OBESSU Monitoring Committee is in charge of regularly writing reports about the Board and its work.

In Europe each Country has its own reality, depending on social and economic factors, in Italy, for instance, Student Welfare is laid down in the Constitution (art. 5), even though there is still much to be done; in UK and Ireland, the number of scholarships is defined a priori and it is really important if the student is still living with the parents or on his own; in France, otherwise, the most of the scholarships is based on criteria related to academic achievements.

The cost of Higher Education and the best ways to support students are among the most debated public policy topics in Education, especially in times of economic crisis. The challenge is striking the right balance between providing sufficient support to institutions through tuition fees, while maintaining access and equity for all student.

Higher tuition fees are expected to increase the resources within educational institutions and to support their efforts in maintaining and developing quality programs for the ever-growing student population. However, tuition fees may also restrict access to higher education for families with a low-income background. It is fundamental to choose appropriate funding mechanisms; considerations of efficiency should be on equal footings with concerns on equity and access to education. In this context, the structure of education funding and support systems are of particular importance. However, it is very difficult to accurately and clearly compare the available data at EU level, because of the complex and multidimensional realities in each country.

In Europe, the funding of student support has two sources, “public” and/or “private”. Unsurprisingly, public funding varies widely and the response to the economic and financial crisis in Europe since 2008 has had a different outcome in each country.

In the same way, the contribution from private funding varies from one country to the other. Private contributions to universities can be conducted in two ways:

  1. Students (or their families) pay tuition fees (which is the most common form of private funding).
  2. Private businesses or organizations give financial support to the educational institutions.

At the moment it is impossible to understand in detail how each country organizes his own student welfare if we want to analyze all the student supports that are not grants, loans or tax benefits.

The purpose of this research is to illustrate how big is the variety regarding student welfare in the various European countries, and the results are presented in a table and in some maps.

Country Main Organisation(s) for Student Welfare Students who receive grants: Students
who pay
Austria Study Grant Authority 15% No fees Students Support Act 1992 (Federal Act)[1]

All Education lsws[2]

Belgium Each university[3] 20% 70% ·decree of 30 april 2004 on study financing and student facilities in higher education

·decree of 8 june 2007 on study financing in the whole of the education system in the Flemish Community. [4]

·Dekret über die Gewährung von Studienbeihilfe (Decree on the granting of financial study supports) (26.06.1986)

·Erlass bezüglich der Gewährung einer Ausgleichsstudienbeihilfe (Governmental decree concerned with the granting of public financial study supports to students studying abroad)[5](23.09.1987)

·Dekret zur Gewährung von Zuschüssen und Stipendien für Weiterbildungslehrgänge und –studien sowie für wissenschaftliche Forschungsprojekte (Decree on the provisions of grants and scholarships for further education courses and studies and for scientifical research projects) (06.06.1988)

·Erlass der Exekutive bezüglich der Gewährung einer Sonderstudienbeihilfe (Governmental decree on the conditions for granting a special public financial support) (16.06.1988)


Bulgaria UBS[6] 20% Almost all students ·The Higher Education (HE) Act, promulgated, State Gazette issue 112 of 27th December 1995, last supplemented, State Gazette issue 101 of 22nd November 2013 regulates the constitution, functions, management and financing of higher education

·The Student and Doctoral-Candidate Loans Act, promulgated, State Gazette issue 69 of 5th August 2008, last amended, State Gazette issue 68 of 2nd August 2013 regulates the terms and procedure for extending loans to students and doctoral candidates with state financial support.[7]

Croatia No data.   60%[8] ·Zakon o znanstvenoj djelatnosti i visokom obrazovanju (NN 123/03, NN 198/03, NN 105/04, NN 174/04, NN 46/07, NN 45/09, NN 63/11)

·Zakon o akademskim stručnim nazivima i akademskom stupnju (NN 107/07)

·Zakon o studentskom zboru i drugim studentskim organizacijama (NN 71/07)

·Zakon o osiguranju kvalitete u znanosti i visokom obrazovanju (NN 45/09)

·Article 38 of the State Administration Act – final version (Official Gazette nos. 190/03 and 199/03)

·Article 122 of the Act on Scientific Activity and Higher Education (Official Gazette no. 123/03)

·Article 1 of the Decree on the Amendments to the Act on Scientific Activity and Higher Education (Official Gazette no. 198/03)

Cyprus No data 2% No fees[9] Ο περί Ανοικτού Πανεπιστημίου Κύπρου Νόμος του 2002 [Τhe Open University of Cyprus Law of 2002] (N.234(I)/2002) [Official Gazette Παρ.Ι(Ι), Αρ. 3670, 31.12.2002] Amended by Law N. 35(I)/2010 (Official Gazette Part I(I), Nr. 4238, 31.03.2010). The Law provides for the following: Establishment, mission and language of the university; governing bodies; academic staff; certification; students; administrative and financial services; open and distance learning; development; funding; internal regulations; and, discipline.[10]
Czech Republic CSU[11] 1% All students ·     Rules for providing subsidies of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports under the Act on higher education institutions to public higher education institutions to accommodation and food of students and to accommodation grants (Internal Regulation of the Ministry): 1. 1. 2005, 28 780/2004-30, Věstník MŠMT ČR, sešit 2/2005, s. 6, mladeze-a-telovychovy-podle-zakona-o-vysokych-skolach-verejnym-vysokym-skolam-na-ubytovani-astravovani-studentu-a-na-ubytovaci-stipendia-na-rok-2005.

·     Basis for setting of fees for study under the article 58 paragraph 2 of the Act on higher education institutions (Internal Regulation of the Ministry): 21. 1. 2011, 1717/2011-33, [12]

Denmark DGS[13] EEO[14] LH[15] All students No fees Bekendtgørelse af lov om statens uddannelsesstøtte (SU-loven) [Consolidation Act on the Act on the state’s educational grant], LBK nr 39 af 15/01/2014. [16]


Estonia ESCU[17] 25% 15% ·    Parental Benefit Act: 10/12/2003, Riigi Teataja (State Gazette) RT I 2003, 82, 549 (Vanemahüvitise seadus)

·    Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act: 27/01/1999, Riigi Teataja (State Gazette) RT I 1999,16,273 (Puuetega inimeste sotsiaaltoetuste seadus)

·    Social Welfare Act: 08/02/1995, Riigi Teataja (State Gazette) RT I 1995,21,323 (Sotsiaalhoolekande seadus)

·    State Family Benefits Act: 14/11/2001, Riigi Teataja (State Gazette) RT I 2001,95,587 (Riiklike peretoetuste seadus)

·    Study Allowances and Study Loans Act: 07/08/2003, Riigi Teataja (State Gazette) RT I 2003,58,387 (Õppetoetuste ja õppelaenu seadus) [18]

Finland FSS[19] SLL[20] SAKKI[21] Almost all students No fees ·  Asetus opetus- ja kulttuuritoimen rahoituksesta (Förordning) : 12/29/2009, 1766/2009 – Decree on the Financing of the Provision of Education and Culture. The decree prescribes on the principles of the funding of education.

·  Laki kansainvälisen henkilövaihdon keskuksesta (Lag) : 02/01/1991, 238/1991 – Act on the Centre for International Mobility. The act defines the tasks of the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO), e.g. promoting international mobility, providing information services, granting scholarships and financial support.

·  Opintovapaalaki (Lag) : 3/9/1979, 273/1979 Study leave Act. The act defines study leave and prescribes on the right as well as on procedures for granting study leave.

·  Asetus vammaisuuden perusteella järjestettävistä palveluista ja tukitoimista (Förordning) : 09/18/1987, 759/1987 – Decree on Services and Assistance for the Disabled. The decree prescribes on the support and services that municipalities have to provide,  e.g. transport, interpreters, accommodation, rehabilitation and personal assistants. [22]

France CNOUS[23] 65% 35% “Equal opportunities” and “success for all” are the fundamental objectives of France’s education policy, and are legally recognised principles

law no.89-486 of 10 July 1989 and

law no.2005-380 of 23 April 2005,

law no.2013-595 of 8 July 2013).

law no. 2013-660 of 22 July 2013 on Higher Education and Research sets the framework for the reform of the higher education and research system launched by the French Government in 2012. One of the purposes of this reform is success for all students, especially those undertaking Bachelor’s degrees at university. [24]

Germany Deutsches Studentenwerk[25] 25% No fees Students in the tertiary sector who have no other means (mainly from their parents’ income) of maintenance and financing a course of study (Bedarf) can also receive financial assistance under the terms of the Federal Training Assistance Act – Bekanntmachung der Neufassung des Bundesgesetzes über individuelle Förderung der Ausbildung (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz – BAföG) Vom 07.12.2010 (BGBl. I 2010,64, S. 1952 ff.), zul. geänd. durch Gesetz vom 29.08.2013 (BGBl. I 2013,54, S. 3484 ff.)


The training must as a rule be started by 30 years of age in order to be eligible for funding under the BAföG. For Master’s study courses the age limit is 35 years. The duration for which such assistance is payable largely depends on the course of study chosen. As a rule, the assistance limit corresponds to the Regelstudienzeit (standard period of study) according to Article 10 Section 2 of the Framework Act for Higher Education (Hochschulrahmengesetz) or the standard period of study as stipulated in the respective examination regulations. From the fifth subject-related semester, students only continue to receive funding if they provide a certificate required for admission to examinations (Leistungsnachweis). The amount of the assistance in principle depends on the student’s own income and financial means as well as those of his or her parents and spouse. Bekanntmachung der Neufassung des Hochschulrahmengesetzes Vom 19.01.1999 (BGBl. I 1999,3, S. 18 ff.), zul. geänd. durch Gesetz vom 12.04.2007 (BGBl. I 2007,13, S. 506 ff.) [26][27]

Greece National Youth Foundation 1% No fees[28] Law 4009/2011 (Government Gazette 195/issue A’/6-9-2011): Structure, operation, quality assurance of studies and internationalisation of higher education institutions and moreover foresees a series of educational and social support structures, benefits and facilities addressed to all students. [29] [30]


Hungary HÖOK[31] 22% 43% Act CCIV of 2011 on Higher Education

Government decree 248/2012 (VIII. 31.) on measures required for the implementation of Act CCIV of 2011 on Higher Education

Government Decree 1/2012 (I. 20.) on the Student Loan

Government decree 51/2007 (III. 26.) on grants available for higher education students and fees payable by

Government decree 79/2006 (IV. 5.) on measures required for the implementation of Act CXXXIX of 2005 on Higher Education


Iceland No data No grants All students Educational Grants Act No. 79 2003 [32]

The Icelandic Student Loan Fund Act No. 21/1992

Ireland CSSI 47% 60% The social and economic benefits of creating an inclusive and equitable education system have been enshrined in policy and legislation in Ireland since the late 1960’s. The Higher Education Authority Act 1971, the Universities Act 1997, the Qualifications Act 1999, the Institutes of Technology Act 2006 and the Student Support Act 2011 are the legislative framework within which policy targeting equity of access to higher education operates. The provisions of equality legislation, such as the Equal Status Act 2000 also apply to all agencies providing education and training.
Italy ANDISU[33] UDS[34] 7,95% 88,5% Costituzione della Repubblica – ART. 34.

The d.p.r. of  July the 24th, 1977, transferred the functions of the university works to the regions.

The Law n. 390 “2 Dec 1991” – pursuant to art. 33 and 34 of the Italian constitution, the state, and the regions have to remove all obstacles to economic and social which effectively limit the equality of citizens in access to higher education.

DPCM 9 April 200

The Law 240/2010 provides for reductions to the basic level of benefits provided by the Prime Ministerial Decree of 2001 and amending certain means of support, such as scholarships for deserving students, loans and student loans [35].


Latvia No data   Around 50%[36] Education Law (1999) – Izglītības likums

Law on Institutions of Higher Education (1995) – Augstskolu likums

Law on Budget and Financial Management (1994) – Likums par budžetu un finanšu vadību

Procedures for the calculation, granting and expenditure of the state budget earmarked for municipality basic education institution pupil catering (2010) – Kārtība, kādā aprēķina, piešķir un izlieto valsts budžetā paredzētos līdzekļus pašvaldībām pamatizglītības iestādes skolēnu ēdināšanai [37]

Lithuania LMS[38] 5,1% 51% Dėl valstybės paskolų ir valstybės remiamų paskolų studentams suteikimo, administravimo ir grąžinimo tvarkos aprašo patvirtinimo [Procedure for Granting, Administration and Repayment of State and State-Supported Loans to Students], No 480, 18 July 2012. [Online] Available at:

Piniginės socialinės paramos nepasiturinčioms šeimoms ir vieniems gyvenantiems asmenims įstatymas [The Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Cash Social Assistance for Poor Families and Single Residents], No XI-1772, 1 December 2011. [Online] Available at:[39]

Liechtenstein No data No grants All students In the tertiary education sector there are no specific educational support measures for students who are disadvantaged personally, socio-economically or culturally.

The Law on Higher Education and the Ordinance on Higher Education state that it is the responsibility of the individual institution of higher education to provide any relevant services. However, financial support can be given to pupils with low income through the state grant.system.

There are no legislative provision in respect of support in tertiary education [40] [41].


Luxembourg UNEL[42] Almost all students 85% There is no definition of disadvantaged learners in higher education in Luxembourg. In fact, the financial aid for higher education (aide financière pour études supérieures’)is supposed to provide sufficient support to students at risk of poverty and social exclusion. This aid may also be demanded by political refugees.

Règlement grand-ducal du 22 mai 2006 relatif à l’obtention du grade de bachelor et du grade de master de l’Université du Luxembourg. [43]


Malta No data   No fees[44] Students Maintenance Grants Regulations, 2005 (Legal Notice 372 of 2005)

A Legal Notice setting out the parameters for students to be eligible for the granting of a maintenance grant as support during the times of their studies.

Students Maintenance Grants (Amendment) Regulations, 2012 (Legal Notice 347 of 2012) This Legal Notice amends the original Student Maintenance Grants Regulations.

University Students (Stipends) Regulations, 1998 (Legal Notice 5 of 1998)

Regulations regarding the granting of stipends applicable to students joining full-time undergraduate university courses on or after 1st October, 1997. [45]

Montenegro No data 1,53% All 2nd circle students[46]  
Netherlands No data 75% All students The Student Finance Act (WSF; 2000) (Wet op de studiefinanciering 2000) provides grants for students. The grants consist of a basic grant and the student’s season public transport ticket to which all students are entitled and an additional grant and a loan which must be applied for.

Under the Fees and Educational Expenses Act (WTOS, 2001) (Wet tegemoetkoming onderwijsbijdrage en schoolkosten), parents can apply for help with educational expenses and fees. The allowance is dependent on income but is not subject to income tax and does not have to be repaid. [47]

Poland Konstanty Kalinowski Foundation; Polish government 2,1% 70% Act of 17 July 1998 on Student Loans and Credits (with further amendments) (Ustawa z 17 lipca 1998 r. o pożyczkach i kredytach studenckich, z późniejszymi zmianami)

Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 9 September 2010 on the criteria and procedure for giving awards for outstanding achievements in research or research and technology, and for awarding research scholarships to outstanding young researchers (Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 9 września 2010 r. w sprawie kryteriów i trybu przyznawania nagród za wybitne osiągnięcia naukowe lub naukowo-techniczne oraz stypendiów naukowych dla wybitnych młodych naukowców)

Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 3 October 2006 on the requirements and procedures for the transfer of student achievements (Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z 3 października 2006 r. w sprawie warunków i trybu przenoszenia osiągnięć studenta)

Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 16 August 2006 on the detailed conditions and procedures for the award and payment of the minister’s scholarships for learning achievements and the minister’s scholarships for outstanding sporting achievement (Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 16 sierpnia 2006 r. w sprawie szczegółowych warunków i trybu przyznawania oraz wypłacania stypendium ministra za osiągnięcia w nauce oraz stypendium ministra za wybitne osiągnięcia sportowe)[48]

Portugal The Social Action in Higher Education (Social Services) 18% All students Decree-Law no. 309-A/2007, of 7 September – creates a specific system of loans with mutual guarantee, for students and scholarship holders of Higher Education, researchers and scientific research and technological development institutions.

Dispatch no. 13531/2009, of 9 June – Regulation on awarding Merit Scholarships to Students in Higher Education Institutions.

Dispatch no. 8442-A/2012, of 22 June (rectified by the Rectification Statement no. 1051/2012, of 14 August) – regulates scholarship awards for students in higher education.

Dispatch no. 10973-D/2014, of 27 August – extends the award of scholarships for Professional Higher Education Technical Programmes and defines their characteristics. [49]


Romania CNE[50] MAZOSK[51] 20% 38% Law of National Education (Law 1/2011)

The education in the higher education system is free of charge, in the limit of the positions allocated each year by the Government, the rest of the positions being available by paying the tuition.

Decision of the Government no. 1861/22/12/2005 regarding the establishment of the National Centre for Scholarships Abroad

Some students from underprivileged families, enrolled with tuition fees. Registration and/or Tuition Fees may be granted exemption or reduction of the fees, subject to the criteria and the decision of the university senates. The general eligibility criteria for scholarships are decided through Decisions of the Government, whilst the specific criteria are devised by the university senates.

Students receive performance or merit scholarships, to encourage excellence, and social grants, to support low-income students. The minimum amount of social scholarships is proposed by CNFIS on an annual basis, by taking into account the fact that they must cover minimum food and accommodation. Universities may supplement the scholarship fund from own extra-budgetary funds.

During the academic year the students benefit from a discount of 50% of the fare of local public transport, domestic transport by road, railway and ship. Orphan students or those coming from foster care benefit from free fare on the means of transport set by order of the Ministry of National Education.

Within the limit of the approved budget, the students benefit from  a discount of 75% of the access to museums, concerts, theatre performances, opera, movies and other cultural and Sports events organized by public institutions, within the limit of the budgets. Within the limit of their own financial resources the public higher education institutions ensure meals, accommodation and transport costs for the intensive practical training of the students, for periods foreseen in the curricula, in case the practical training is realized outside of the respective university centre.[52]

Slovakia SUUS[53] 12-20% All students Higher education institution provides student with scholarships

from the resources allocated from the state budget

from its own resources by means of a scholarship fund.

Decree No. 102/2006 on granting social scholarship to students of higher education institutions as amended by subsequent provision (Decree of the Ministry of Education of the SR) : 1.4.2006, 102/2006, Zbierka zákonov č. 43/2006, page 734.

Decree No. 453/2005 on the scope and further details on granting motivation scholarship (Decree of the Ministry of Education of the SR) : 15.10.2005, 453/2005, Zbierka zákonov č. 183/2005, page 4280.

Slovenia DOS[54] 27% 85% Rules on Awarding Grants [Pravilnik o dodeljevanju študijskih pomoči (Uradni list RS, št. 75/1994, 53/1996, 94/2000, 5/2008 (106/2010)]). Published: 02. 12. 1994. Available at:

Rules Awarding Grants [Pravilnik o dodeljevanju študijskih pomoči strokovnim delavcem na področju vzgoje in izobraževanja (Uradni list RS, št. 106/2010]). Published: 27. 12. 2010. Available at:

Organization and Financing of Education Act [Zakon o organizaciji in financiranju vzgoje in izobraževanja – ZOFVI

Scolarship Act [Zakonu o štipendiranju – ZŠtip-1 (Uradni list RS, št. 56/2013, 99/2013-ZUPJS-C)]. Published: 02. 07. 2013. Available at:

Rules of subsidized student meals [Pravilnik o subvencioniranju študentske prehrane (Uradni list RS, št. 72/2014]). Published: 10. 10. 2014. Available at:

Regulations on tuition fees and accommodation in students’ dormitories for Slovene nationals without Slovene citizenship and foreigners in the Republic of Slovenia [Pravilnik o šolninah in bivanju v študentskih domovih za Slovence brez slovenskega državljanstva in tujce v Republiki Sloveniji (Uradni list RS, št. 70/2008]). Published: 11. 07. 2008. Available at: [55]



Spain CANAE[56] 27% 70% Royal Decree1000/2012, of 29 June 2012, establishing the income thresholds and family wealth and the amount of scholarships and grants for the academic year 2012/13, and partially modifying the Royal Decree 1721/2007, of 21 December 2007 establishing the individualised scholarships and grants (Spanish Official Gazette 5/7/2012).

Royal Decree 609/2013, of 2 August 2013, establishing the thresholds of family income and assets and the size of grants and financial support for the 2013/14 academic year, and partially amending Royal Decree 1721/2007, of 21 December 2007, establishing the system of personalised grants and financial support (Spanish Official Gazette 3/8/2013).

Royal Decree 472/2014, of 13 June 2014, establishing the thresholds of family income and assets and the size of grants and financial support for the 2014/15 academic year, and partially amending Royal Decree 1721/2007, of 21 December 2007, establishing the system of personalised grants and financial support (Spanish Official Gazette 14/6/2014).

Resolution of 28 July 2014, of the Secretariat of State for Education, Vocational Training and Universities, announcing general grants for the academic year 2014/15, for post-compulsory education students (Spanish Official Gazette 7/8/2014).

Sweden Swedish Student Housing Foundation (Svenska Studentbostadsföreningen – SBF) 67% No fees “The new Education Act – for knowledge, choice and security” (Govt. Bill 2009/10:165) to the Riksdag. The new Education Act applies as of 1 July 2011.

Higher Education Act (Högskolelagen, SFS 1992:1434)

Ordinance for higher education (HögskoleförordningenSFS 1993:100)


UK   67% All 1st year students The Equality Act 2010 provides a single legal framework that seeks to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

Specific priorities as set out by the Government in the higher education White Paper, Students at the Heart of the System (BIS, 2011) included supporting social mobility, fair access and widening participation.

Education (Graduate Endowment and Student Support) (Scotland) Act 2001 (Act of the Scottish Parliament) : 2001, asp6. Made provision for the graduate endowment, a payment by graduates (once they have a specified level of income) intended to repay government financial support they received while undergraduate students; made provision in relation to the use of income arising from the graduate endowment for the purposes of the financial support of students; made further provision for financial support for students; and exempted students from liability for local council tax.

Education and Skills Act 2008 (Act of Parliament)

Introduced a requirement for all young people to participate in education or training until their 18th birthday. Also amended legislation relating to adult education and training and support for young people, and changed the regulatory framework for the inspection of independent schools. [57] [58] [59] [60]

Grants award criteria

To get a complete picture of the cost of higher education in the EU, it is important to consider it alongside student support. Governments subsidies student living or educational costs through different combinations of grants, loans and tax benefits. Public support to students and their families indirectly funds higher education institutions. It also enables governments to increase participation in higher education, especially among low-income students, and thus address issues of access and equality of opportunity. Proponents of student loans argue that loans allow available funding to be spread further (i.e. if the amounts spent on grants were used to guarantee or subsidise loans instead, assistance would be available to more students) and general access to higher education would improve. In contrast, opponents of loans claim that they are less effective than grants in encouraging low-income students to pursue their education. Grants are cash awards that do not need to be repaid. Grant providers usually indicate whether their grant should be used for tuition, research costs or additional expenses. The two main forms of grants offered are those awarded on the basis of financial need, and those awarded for academic merit. Need-based grants are in use in all EU countries except Greece. Merit based grants are used slightly less often. A mixture of both need and merit-based criteria for grants is present in around two thirds of EU countries. As with the fee system, Estonia is the only country that has made changes to its system in 2014 to introduce merit-based grants.




Fig. 1 – Share of students who paid fees

Fig. 2 – Amount of fees EU universities

Fig. 3 – Scholarships and grant award criteria


Fig. 4 – Share of grants achievers (1st attempt)


Fig. 5 – Scholarships amount


Fig.6 – Which facilities EU students can have access to



[1] Communiqué of the meeting of European Ministers in charge of Higher Education in Prague on May 19th 2001.

[2] Communiqué of the Conference of Ministers responsible for Higher Education in Berlin on 19 September 2003.

[3] The European Higher Education Area – Achieving the Goals, Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education, Bergen, 19-20 May 2005.

[4] Student Welfare Policy Statement.New South Wales Department of Education – 1986,


[1] Figures are indicative to 2014-2015 academic year.

[1] Studienförderungsgesetz 1992 (StudFG 1992 ) (Bundesgesetz) (

Provisions governing the granting of study grants and other supporting measures in order to provide a sound financial backing for students and to avoid the need for side-line employment.


[3] “Hogescholen” (umbrella organization:  Vlhora), “Hautes Ecoles” (umbrella: CGHE) or “Hochschule” and at the universities: “Universiteit” (umbrella: VLIR) or “Université” (umbrella: CIUF). See also for an overview of all relevant contacts concerning higher education.



[6] Union of Bulgarian Students.


[8] Only during 1st year.

[9] In the 1st circle are paid by the State for EU students.


[11] Česká středoškolská unie (website: CSU consists of school students from more than 60 schools which is around 8% of all high schools in the Czech Republic.


[13] Danske Gymnasieelevers Sammenslutning (website:

[14] Erhversskolernes Elev-Organisation (website:

[15] Landssammenslutningen af Handelskoleelever (website: Founded in 1979, represents all school students in upper secondary schools, attending a business related schools. At the general assembly every school member of LH is represented by 1-5 persons. LH purpose is to take care of the political, social and economic interests of the business students. It works around three main topics: the creation of democratic education, the improvement of student democracy and last but not least political work.


[17] Eesti Õpilasesinduste Liit (website: Founded in 1996, the Estonian School Student Councils’ Union is a union of school students’ councils that represents the Estonian pupils, stands up for their interests, and promotes the learning environment and school life. ESCU stands for the preservation of student unions and supports their development. In order to achieve its aims, ESCU organizes round tables, seminars, researches, conferences and camps, interacts with the media, allows students to attend international conferences and camps, and organises various projects. ESCU is composed by voluntary members of board (students) and contractual employees.


[19] Finlands Svenska Skolungdomsförbund (website: FSS was founded in 1921, and is the oldest school student union in the world. Main aims: free access to education, school student rights, school democracy, youth empowerment and influence, to be a channel of influence for school students and to encourage school students to get actively involved in society.

[20] Suomen Lukiolaisten Liitto (website: The Union of Finnish Upper Secondary School Students (SLL), founded in 1985, is a national, politically and ethnically independent lobbying, service and leisure organisation for upper secondary school students. The union represents each of the approximately 120.000 upper secondary school students in governmental, municipal and provincial work groups and takes part in all decisions concerning upper secondary school students. Its 50.000 members form the backbone of the union. These members are divided into ten regional and three member organizations. In terms of numbers, SLL is the largest student organization in Finland based on voluntary membership. SLL is considered one of the leading experts in matters concerning upper secondary school and its students, and has a high status and reputation within the Ministry of Education. SLL is also recognized for its quality activities, making it a model for other organizations.

[21] Ammattiin Opiskelevat (website: SAKKI is a nationwide organization with members all around Finland. For an individual member SAKKI’s student card is the most valuable benefit that entitles the student to all major student discounts in Finland and also around the Europe. SAKKI’s student card is the cheapest one in Finland. The purpose of the Union is to: act as a guardian of the interests of its members in matters related to educational and social policies as well as other study-related matters, act as a service organisation for its members by developing membership-related benefit, increase the respect for vocational education and training and promote the activities of student unions and the development of the members into active citizens, enhance the interaction between vocational education and training and the working life and increase the labour market knowledge of the members, promote cultural and leisure activities, and enhance the status of those who have finished their studies and remained unemployed and their positioning in the working life.


[23] National Centre for University and School Works.


[25] Important notice: the Studentenwerke do not administer scholarships for students from abroad, which is instead duty of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or other sources.



[28] In the 1st circle.



[31] The National Union of Students in Hungary (website:, it represents nationwide the approximately 400k students of the country. HÖOK represents the Hungarian students in state and non-state organization dealing with higher education and youth policy. (


[33] Associazione Nazionale degli Organismi per il Diritto allo Studio Universitario ( ANDISU was founded in Torin during 1997, is a non-profit organization on a national level.

[34] Unione degli studenti ( The UdS is a network of independent secondary school student groups which work in their towns to ensure the respect of students’ rights.


[36] 55 % of 1st cycle and 40% of 2nd cycle students pay fees.


[38] Lithuanian School Student Union (website: Lithuanian School Student Union (LMS) is a voluntary, non-profit association, uniting Lithuanian school student’s councils. On 18th of May 1999, the Lithuanian School Student Union got its official status as a non-profit organization. LMS mission is to represent school students by forming Education and Youth policies, educating school students with urgent issues, joining them in common activities by cooperating with governmental and non-governmental institutions, creating a perfect community for schools and their students.




[42] Union Nationale des élèves et étudiant(e)s du Luxembourg (website: NEL has been founded in the 1920s. At that time it was the sole Luxembourgish students union, regrouping all of the different societies of Luxembourgish students in different countries under its roof. UNEL has always been politically active and in the late 1980s this led to a major split-up. Some societies, considering themselves apolitical, quit the UNEL and created their own organisation. Yet, the UNEL has uninterruptedly been active, fighting for students rights. The work of UNEL is not restricted to Luxembourg, the fight for a better future for youth is international and thus the UNEL is also engaged in the European politics.


[44] For 1st circle EU students.


[46] For 1st circle EU students.




[50] Consiliul Național al Elevilor (website: CNE was officially founded in 2007, but school and local structures developed earlier because of a real need identified by school students. CNE`s mission is to represent, defend and strengthen school students welfare, democratic, and social rights. CNE works for sustainable, accessible and high quality education in Romania. The aim of CNE is to represent and promote the educational, social, economic and cultural interests of the school students towards all relevant bodies and especially towards the Ministry of Education.

[51] Romániai Magyar Középiskolások szövetsége (website:


[53] Stredoškolská študentská únia Slovenska (website: SUS was founded in 1998 by Radoslav Kosik, Rastislav Mikulas and Kristina Pomothyova. SUS exixts for students, to help them, connect them, supports their rights. The organisation cooperates with many school and city student councils, with city councils, few national organisations and it stands for students when needed. All the members come from local school coucils.

[54] Dijaška Organizacija Slovenije (website: Founded in 1993 by Alenka Kunaver and Matej Kurent., first with the name of School Student Section of Slovenia, then renamed School Student Organisation of Slovenia. The School Student Organisation joins all the students of Slovenia, represents their interest and caters for their implementation. DOS is a representative organisation for all the school students of Slovenia. Any student can become a member and therefore cooperate on a national level.


[56] Confederación Estatal de Asociaciones de Estudiantes. CANAE works for the active participation of students in all the situations and processes where they have the right to be present. CANAE believes that it is essential for the associations of students to be a part of the School Council at their schools and other representation and government bodies of Universities. CANAE promotes students’ rights and supports their fundamental role of participation for the sake of equality in our education. CANAE defends the students against any kind of discrimination or abuse. CANAE is an independent organisation that defends the democratic rights of our partners without any kind of shackles. CANAE believes that there cannot be any limitation (social, economical or any other kind), which could be a motive of discrimination against students to access the studies they wish to follow.