EU refuses to help claim back unpaid student debt

The Danish parliament is considering challenging a ruling of the European Court of Justice which states that students that work in Denmark should be eligible to receive Danish student funding. The EU has refused to help the Danish government claim back the unpaid student loans of other EU member states’ citizens. The Danish government is experiencing difficulties claiming the debt back as many international students leave Denmark after completing their studies. In 2016 the international students’ debt amounted to DKr426 million, or approximately €57 million, which is double the amount owed in 2012. European citizens owe approximately DKr123 million of total foreign students’ debt, and roughly 40% of it has not been repaid. The Danish government is now considering directly approaching the governments of the countries in which the majority of those students are understood to have settled. The United Kingdom is facing similar negotiations on European students’ debt after Brexit. More than 12,000 graduates are said to have gone ‘missing’ after receiving their university degrees, leaving behind a debt of £89 million. Similar to Denmark’s loan management agency, the UK’s Student Loan Company (SLC) has a poor record of tracking down foreign graduates that have left the country. British universities were reportedly worried about the loss of funding as an increasing number of European students feel less secure attending university in the UK after Brexit. As a result, the British government has agreed to provide European students with loans of up to £28,000 until 2020. A spokesperson for the Danish People’s Party, Kenneth Kristensen Berth has called for Denmark to go to war with the European Court of Justice over the 2012 ruling. Berth has also called for the enforcement of emergency laws to terminate the foreign student loan arrangements. The Danish Conservative Party previously proposed to limit funds to students from countries with which Denmark has bilateral tax agreements. Denmark’s Liberal Party, however, did not support the proposal. The parliament eventually reached a cross-party agreement in 2012 which stated that if the total amount of international student debt owed to the Danish government exceeds DKr 500 million then the eligibility of EU students for the funds will be renegotiated.