(CN) – A Belgian rule limiting the enrollment of foreign university students is discriminatory, the European Court of Justice ruled, leaving it up to the national court to decide if such discrimination is justified.
Four years ago, the French Community of Belgium began capping enrollment in universities to 30 percent non-Belgian residents, in response to increased numbers of French students registering for medical programs there.
Europe’s high court ruled that, in principle, access to higher education among member states is essential to freedom of movement within the European Union.
The Belgian rule to preclude non-residents after a certain quota constitutes a discriminatory difference of treatment, Europe’s high court ruled. It put the question of whether this is justified back to the national court.
The Court of Justice called for an objective, detailed analysis examining the specific risks to public health from such a policy.
Any restrictions must be the minimum necessary to prevent harm to public health, the court ruled.
The high court also questioned whether a system of drawing lots for the remaining 70 percent of local enrollees is consistent with such goals.