The universities feel that the cabinet should start investing more in higher education now. Student organisations are not prepared to wait until the new loan system eventually starts generating money.

The education budget for 2016 is the calm before the storm: nothing much is changing now, but the new loan system will ensure that millions are released in a few years’ time. It will obviously take time before the students start repaying their loans. But Thom de Graaf, president of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, wants Minister Bussemaker to use that money sooner. Now that the economy is showing signs of recovery, he feels the time is right. “Earlier investments in higher professional education will be recuperated sooner in the promotion of the knowledge economy.”

Symbolic wish list

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) is also calling on the Minister to ‘speed up and increase essential investments’. President Karl Dittrich has also pointed out that no extra money is being made available for the National Science Agenda, which is due to be presented soon. “Without financial resources, the agenda will be nothing more than a symbolic wish list.”

Students are also disappointed in the budget for 2016. “It is unclear how the quality of education will be improved for current students”, says Sara Spano from the National Student Union. “Very little action has been forthcoming from all those fine promises.” Linde de Nie from the Intercity Student Council adds: “All the squabbling about sums and promises must stop. Be honest to students and be open about the situation.”