Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Peter Lilley:

    To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2011, Official Report, column 600W, on overseas students: EU nationals, how many (a) penalties were charged and (b) other actions were taken in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement.


    Mr David Willetts (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills):

    [holding answer 7 March 2011]: Students from the European Union (EU) are entitled to receive the same student support as home students in respect of tuition fees. The The first main cohort of EU students were due to start repaying in April 2010. Where borrowers have returned overseas and have not responded, a default schedule is drawn up and the account put into arrears. A default letter is sent immediately asking for repayment of the default balance. This step allows court action to follow if necessary. To date, no penalties have been charged to borrowers. As of 30 April 2010, 1,100 EU borrowers were in arrears (10% of EU borrowers). In 2009, the SLC successfully raised nine judgements against EU borrowers. The SLC enforced some in Scottish courts and some in other EU countries. This group of borrowers were those who had left their courses and who came into repayment earlier than the first main cohort. We cannot break the information down further as it could compromise the confidentiality of individuals. It is too early to say how successful these processes will be since the full cycle has yet to be run. Nonetheless, we continue to work with the SLC to develop the most robust and cost-effective methods for collection possible. This applies equally to UK students who notify the SLC that they are moving abroad.