Halbe Zijlstra, the Dutch State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, wants to limit the study financing that is currently given to international students who work eight hours a week or more. What would this mean for the international students at EUR?

In the past years, the amount of money that is given to working international students has increased dramatically: in 2006, 6 million Euros were spent to provide these students with study financing, compared to 26 million Euros in 2011. Zijlstra wants to limit the amount of internationals that can claim Dutch study financing, and wants to raise the working hour limit to 14 hours a week. Zijlstra says international students are more than welcome, as long as they come to the Netherlands for high-quality education, and not for the supposed ‘financial gain’.

Equal treatment

So why let internationals work for their money? Wouldn’t long working hours have a negative effect on the study results of international students? Thea Jonkman, from the DUO (Dutch Education Implementation) explains that the working limit exists to prevent people from unrightfully taking advantage of this financial arrangement. Working alongside studying is also not a problem, according to her: “Many Dutch students have to work to pay for their education, even though they receive money from the Dutch government. In that aspect, we want to treat the Dutch and international students equally.” Additionally, it is illegal for students to receive funding from two governments at the same time, so accepting Dutch study financing would mean that internationals would have to give up any funding they receive from their own government.

Working for fun

How do working internationals feel about this possible new legislation? Christian Mathis, a third-year IBEB student from Austria, works for Erasmus Magazine, and also receives study financing from the Dutch government. However, he does not feel affected by the current discussion around financing for international students: “I don’t only work for the money: my job allows me to be creative and forms a balance and contrast to my studies.” He does not think study financing for internationals is necessary, as according to him, the Netherlands already offers high quality education for low tuition fees.

Working + studying = stressful

Nora Cyrus, a German third-year IBA student, also works more than eight hours a week, but for the same reasons as Christian: she does not have to work to finance her stay in the Netherlands, but enjoys working and feels her job experience might be useful for future internships and job applications. She understands the Dutch government has to make budget cuts, but doesn’t think that raising the working hour limit is the best solution: “I know several people who worked for 12 to 16 hours a week next to their studies, but they also said it was really stressful to keep up with studying. Sometimes they were even unable to take all exams.”

StuFi is ‘special’

Both Christian and Nora have never received funding from their own governments. Within Europe, there are many different governmental policies around study financing. Christian: “In Austria, we don’t pay tuition fees, so there is also no study financing available from the government.” Nora explains that in Germany, it is only possible to receive a student loan, that has to be partially paid back to the government. So why even give StuFi to international students, when their own government does not even provide them with study financing? Nora disagrees: “Even though international students like me can be grateful that they receive funding from the Dutch government, I think not paying any StuFi to foreign students would be inappropriate with respect to internationalization.” IS