Education Quandary

Our son wants to study design in Holland. As an EU student, can he get financial help?
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The Independent Online

As European citizens, we are all supposed to be able to work and study anywhere within the European Union, but it is not always that straightforward, and perhaps especially, as you say, because the four-year design course that your son has his eye on is not considered, in Holland, to be a degree course, but more of a higher vocational qualification. Your son will not be eligible for a UK student loan, but student finance officials in the Netherlands say that, as an EU student, he will be entitled to exactly the same support as their own students. However, they say, like all student loan systems, the procedures can be complicated, and they suggest that you get advice and help from the institution in question.

It is worth trawling the design world to see whether there are any charities or grant-givers who might stump up some cash for his European adventure, and also take a look at the relevant pages of the website run by the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (www.nuffic.nl) for pointers towards any awards that might be available in the Netherlands.

In addition, look into the living costs in Holland, and whether he will be able to work there in order to help support himself.

Other good sources of information are the British Council and Ukcosa, the Council for International Education. If your son has decided that this is what he wants, he should try his best to go for it. His motivation will be high, even if his income isn't.

Readers' advice

If he is able to go to the Netherlands and study the subject he wants to as part of a home-based degree, he might be able to do it through the European Commission's Erasmus programme, which sends thousands of UK students to study in other European countries every year. Their UK grants and loans continue as if they were studying at home, they pay no fees to the host institution, and they can sometimes get top-up funding from the programme. My personal experience of students who have taken part in this is that their year abroad does wonders for their self-confidence and maturity.
Terry Burns, Manchester

Congratulations to your son for having the courage to think of studying abroad. Do not let issues of money put him off. My daughter desperately wanted to take a fashion design course in Milan, but never followed it through because she was worried about not speaking Italian, and about how she would survive financially. Now she is trying to gain a foothold in international fashion and bitterly regrets not being bolder.
Elaine Alster, London N5

Do you know why he wants to study in the Netherlands when this country is so good for art and design? My home county, Kent, for example, has a terrific design school. Does he think standards are higher? Or is it that he just wants to be different? If you are planning to support him on his European travels, which you will almost certainly have to, you need to be sure that his motives are the best.
Rosemary Shipton, Canterbury

Next week's quandary

I'm positive that my child is being bullied, but her class teacher says she would know about it if she was and that in class she is fine. But my daughter is increasingly reluctant to go to school, shuts herself in her room all the time, and doesn't want to go out with her friends. What do I do now?

Send your letters to Hilary Wilce, to reach her by next Monday, at The Independent, Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or send e-mails to h.wilce@btinternet.com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose letters are printed will receive a Berol Combi Pack containing a cartridge pen, handwriting pen and ink eraser.

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