Financing Studies: Financial Support schemes for students in selected countries
Most countries around the world offer financial support for students, in the sphere of higher education. The general goal is to give young people who have the abilities and the willingness to study access to higher education, despite a lack of their own financial means. But ensuring equality of access is not the only aim of financial support schemes. Promoting the most talented and encouraging effective study behaviour are other aims that can be sought. It is a question of priorities to what degree these aspects are emphasized in the design of the system. This paper compares the schemes in Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Estonia. The financial support schemes of these countries differ substantially. The German system clearly emphasises a goal of equality in access, and a large degree of the legal and institutional framework created seeks to realise this goal. But the goal is reached at high costs, and the support is hardly performance-orientated. The case of the Netherlands offers an example of a country that reaches a good equality of access and at the same time gives incentives for efficient study behaviour. The systems in Australia and Estonia are again different from the German and Dutch cases. They do not put that much emphasis on equality but rather have the idea of supporting the most talented persons. Estonia is extremely orientated towards achievement. Both systems are also interesting because they rely on existing institutions (both tax offices and commercial banks) instead of creating new institutions (IB Group and BAföG offices, respectively). In this manner, they reach high cost efficiency.
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