UK will freeze student loan applications for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania

A suspicious surge of applications for student loans from Bulgarians and Romanias has led to the freezing of student loans for citizens of those two countries. David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said he had suspended loans to students from the two countries after an unusual increase in the number receiving support from the Student Loans Company (SLC).

According to  Willets two-thirds of the people from Bulgaria and Romania who had applied for student loans could not prove that they are eligible for the money that they had received. Bulgaria and Romania have joined the European Union in 2007. Initially many Western European countries imposed restriction according to which people who come from the new EU countries can not work freely in all of the European Union.

According to the EU law, however, those restrictions are to fall in 2014. This has led to fears that large influx of workers from Eastern Europe might arrive in UK after 1 January 2014. The Students Loan Company in the UK offers two types of loans. The first one covers the tuition fees and the second one covers the living costs.  The tuition fee loan is available for citizens of all EU countries and the living costs loan is available for EU citizens that had lived in the UK for at least three years.

It is understood that around 5,500 Romanians and Bulgarians have received the first instalment of cost-of-living loans this year, a big increase from last year.  Most of the people that received the loans were registered in small institutions that are classified as alternative providers and offer Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and other non-university qualifications. As a result of the suspension of student loans, the UK official expect to receive back more than 1 million British pounds in loan instalments.

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