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Date of print: 27/10/16

Work programme of the Bologna Follow-Up Group 2005-2007

Working Group on Portability of Grants and Loans

In the Bergen Communiqué it was recognised that mobility of students among all participating countries remains one of the key objectives of the Bologna Process. Though mobility is the desired outcome, portability of grants and loans - although not a panacea – should be seen as a means to that end. For this reason the Ministers have made the commitment to stimulate and facilitate the portability of student grants and loans. The Ministers have also stated that, in order to make portability work, joint action could be an appropriate mechanism. Yet, countries seem hesitant to implement portability. Hence, the objective of the Working Group on Portability of grants and loans was ‘making portability work’.

Content for Bologna Expert - 18/05/2007
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Key outcomes from the Working Group on Portability of Grants and Loans

The Working Group took the commitments of the Bologna Ministers regarding portability as mentioned in the Berlin and Bergen Communiqués as a starting point.

The Working Group collected information on the different grants and loans systems, the current practice of countries that offer portability for full studies abroad and the legal framework of portable grants and loans for students.

The Working Group also examined the legal framework and concluded that the portability of grants and loans is possible. There are no legal barriers. The legal research also showed that students are unlikely to get much support from the host country, which confirms the desirability of portable support. In some cases students can get support from the host country, which may result in them receiving double support when they are also eligible for portable support.

The Working Group found that the different countries all have grants and/or loans systems to support their students and that each country has its own system. Although a lot of similarities are to be found among these systems, none is exactly like the other. That also means that each of them needs different information on the student, the study programme they are attending, their living situation, their income or that of their parents or partner, their achievements etc.

The information needed is less easy to obtain when students are abroad. Countries need each other’s assistance to operate their grants and/or loans systems properly when students are abroad. This led to the suggestion that an informal network of national experts be set up to share information, and help to identify and overcome obstacles to the portability of grants and loans.

Although the network has to choose its own structure, we propose to chair it by a troika of countries that periodically changes. Scotland, Denmark (starting from 2008) and the Netherlands have already volunteered to chair with Ireland and Norway indicating that they are interested in co-chairing.
Austria, England, Finland, Germany, Lithuania & Sweden pointed out that they will be participating in the network. Of course we welcome all other Bologna partner countries to join this network too.

The first concrete tasks foreseen for the network are to:

  • collect and provide general information on the national student support systems and the educational systems of the Bologna partner countries;
  • address the issue of data-protection to prevent double payment of grants and loans (by both the home and the host country) and to facilitate the repayment of loans;
  • collect and provide statistical data on the international mobility of students in the EHEA.

Aldrik in’t Hout, Chair of the Working Group, Netherlands

Source: Bergen to London 2007 - Secretariat Report on the Bologna Work Programme 2005-2007
Bologna Process between Bergen and London

Terms of reference

Proposed terms of reference (as itemised in the paper: BFUG8 5).

To obtain a workable set of proposals including joint actions, it is important that realistic and achievable targets for practical outcomes are set for the Working Group. In this context the Working Group will seek to:

  • Define the elements of this issue in more detail (e.g. what is understood by ‘grants and loans’);
  • Describe the obstacles that countries encounter in making grants and loans portable;
  • Examine and provide information on relevant & applicable EU-law;
  • Collect good practices;
  • Provide a way to link the grant and/or loan authorities of different countries in order to exchange the necessary information;
  • Develop a set of tools to guide countries in making their grant and/or loan system portable;
  • Identify ways to facilitate each others portability systems (ranging from appropriate information about study programmes to the assistance in refunding the loans);
  • Define levels/ways for exchanging relevant information.

In the elaboration, the Working Group is to be aware of the different positions of the Bologna countries (for example EU and non-EU) and will take these into account. It could include Bologna countries that do not have a student support system or that do not wish (at this point) to make their system portable. For countries that do wish to make their grant and/or loan system portable, it will be of help to have a forum where they can exchange necessary information with countries that do not themselves have portability or that have another (or no) student support system.

It will be advantageous for this Group to maintain close contact with the ‘Social dimension and data on mobility’ Working Group in order to build on complementary activities and to benefit from each others findings.

Published: 18/05/2007 - Last modified: 03/06/2016
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Further elaboration of the final Terms of Reference, organisation of work, time schedule, resources and the list of membership were discussed at the first meeting of the Group in The Hague on 16 June 2006.

Second meeting of the Working Group – Glasgow, 7-8 September 2006.

Third meeting of the Working Group – Berlin 15th January 2007.


Belgium (Fr. Sp.)
Bologna Secretariat Croatia
European Commission
Germany Ireland
The Netherlands

The working group consists of student support experts who are closely linked to their BFUG-colleagues.