Armenia to use tax payments of working students to cover tuition
The Armenian parliament is likely to pass a bill that will write off some university students’ tuition fees via their income tax.
For now, the bill will only affect individuals studying for their master’s or doctor’s degrees, in addition to students going through residencies, and whose degrees are in high-demand in the country, including in particular agriculture, IT and construction.
The co-author of the project, the head of the ruling parliamentary faction “My Step” Lilit Makunts explained the general philosophy of the bill:
“Often our family members and parents pay for the student’s education. But students, especially in graduate school, need to help themselves earn. This will form а new attitude to study and work.”
The bill’s co-author, My Step MP Sisak Gabrielyan, stated:
“At the beginning, the project was supposed to concern undergraduate students, however, since the law ‘On Education’ has not yet been adopted, at this stage we plan to apply this regulation only to graduate and post-graduate studies.”
Gabrielyan further explained that the scheme would only work for certain specialities and studies, “areas which the government has declared a priority for the development of the country’s economy.”
The bill will come into force on September 1, 2020, when it is formally adopted.
Who came out against the bill?
Deputy Minister of Finance Arman Poghosyan said the bill would only increase the state’s burden, explaining that the education sector is not subject to VAT, and that the budget loses large amounts of money because of this – an estimated 26.9 billion AMD or $56 million.
“It’s not a fact that the budget will be able to handle this new benefit,” said Poghosyan.
Head of the parliamentary commission on economic issues Babken Tunyan said it was more advisable to discuss this issue in the commission on education. Indeed, economists should evaluate the project precisely from the point of view of economic efficiency, while education is an area that requires a different approach.
However, Tunyan said he would still vote in favor of the bill, which received the approval of the economic commission and will be considered at the next session of parliament.
Social media reaction
Armenian Facebook users responded with excitement:
“In general, it should be that students do work during training and devotes all their time to studying.”
“Let the law be adopted as soon as possible!”
“We have been waiting for the adoption of the law!”
“And why doesn’t this benefit apply to undergraduate students? Many of us have been working since freshman or sophomore year!”