Universities call for stricter student grant system to be scrapped

New requirements could result in half of learners dropping out, deans warn

Spain's university deans have united in demanding that Education Minister José Ignacio Wert revoke a new system of awarding grants to students, which they believe will dissuade thousands from higher education.

At the Conference of Universities being held in Madrid, the president of the body, Adelaida de la Calle, warned that the reform could lead to the loss of half of the country's grant-assisted students. "Some say 54 percent, others 48 percent, but we can't say exactly because different regions have different fees."

Wert attended the conference on Thursday, having refused to meet deans at a meeting last May, to hear their concerns. 

Under the current system, students receive between 500 and 2,000 euros. The new structure would reduce the maximum to 1,500 and the minimum to potentially just 60 euros based on a formula taking into account the student's grades, economic capacity and the total number of applications. Fees in Spain have risen this year by up to 540 euros.

The minimum academic requirement to qualify for a grant has also been raised from 5.5 to 6.5 out of 10.

The Andalusia regional government said Thursday that 40 percent of its students will lose their grants as a result of the planned alterations.

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