If universities are unable to explain why they are charging such high fees for ‘second degree study programmes’, a maximum fee schedule could be introduced.

This is what Minister Jet Bussemaker (Education; Labour Party (PvdA)) has threatened in response to the PvdA’s Parliamentary questions. In her opinion, universities and universities of advanced science must develop a proper justification for their fees and must share their calculations with students.

Thousands of Euros Higher

For their first bachelor and master study programmes, students pay the normal, statutory tuition fees in the amount of € 1,906 per year. Once they have earned a degree and would like to start a second bachelor’s or master’s degree, they must pay the institution fees. Often this is thousands of euros higher and differs by university. On average, a second bachelor’s degree costs approximately € 7,500 per year and a second master’s degree € 11,500 per year. At EUR you pay between € 11,000 and € 20,700 for a second master’s degree.

There are institutions that do not charge higher fees. Furthermore the law provides for an exception for healthcare and education study programmes. Students who have not yet completed a study programme in these professions can enrol in a retraining programme at the lower rate.


Bussemaker arranges for an investigation to be conducted to determine whether the level and justification of the tuition fees ‘are sufficiently substantiated’, she writes. If the justification of the fees is difficult to trace back, she will call the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) to account for this. The Minister could make transparency mandatory. However, she also has a more powerful tool at her disposal. ‘If the information made available by institutions continues to fall short an extreme measure can be implemented to ultimately maximise the institution tuition fees.’


The Parliamentary questions were asked pursuant to a lawsuit brought against universities. Students and prospective students, under the banner of the Stichting Collectieve Actie Universiteiten (Association for Group Action against Universities), are demanding insight into how the fees are calculated. In the opinion of the students, universities should only be permitted to charge break-even tuition fees and no more than that. Universities are refusing to provide this insight and want to continue to set the fees themselves. HOP/EvR