STUDENT mobility across Europe is hampered by the lack of agreement on entry requirements and fee-charging in higher education, Edith Cresson, European commissioner for education, training and youth, said at a youth conference in Brussels this week.
She called on European Union member states to strive to secure common agreements on entry requirements and fee charging, Many students find their qualifications and experience are not fully recognised when they apply to study abroad, particularly if they are not part of a European Commission programme, such as Socrates, she said.
The prospect of students from the continent having to pay Pounds 1,000 towards fees and possible top-up fees to study at a British university was another matter of concern that the commission would have to consider, she added.
Such issues were as much an obstacle to mobility as the lack of agreement across Europe on tax arrangements for student financial support. Some students are taxed 60 per cent of their scholarships.
"It is extremely important to get common agreements on these issues because they affect mobility. But it is very difficult because it depends on the council and not the commission," she said.
Higher education institutions could do more to help standardise the system while maintaining their independence, she suggested. "They are independent but that does not solve the problem of not acknowledging the qualifications of someone who has not had a scholarship but has spent some time at another university," she said.
An EC official added: "We do not see why what is done within the framework of the Erasmus programme cannot be done between the universities themselves."
Mrs Cresson said a shortage of money to support programmes in which 350,000 young people participate each year meant study abroad was still largely a privilege of the middle classes.