Rotterdam’s student associations are doing well. Association membership has risen by 8 percent this year compared to the year before. The Rotterdamsch Studenten Gezelschap (RSG) has seen the greatest rise in membership, with the number of first-year students joining having gone up by 27 percent from last year.
When the student loan system was introduced last month, the National Chamber of Associations (among other organisations) expected student association membership to take a downward plunge. That fear now seems groundless.
In addition to first-year students joining, the majority of Rotterdam associations have also witnessed an increase in the number of older students joining. The Rotterdamsche Vrouwelijke Studenten Vereeniging is one such association, says Sophie de Vries Robbé. ‘Last year, twenty-three percent of students joining our society were second-year or even more senior students. This year, that number is thirty-two percent.’ She thinks the university’s policy may have contributed to this increase. ‘The university has indicated in its policy that it would like students to get their degrees quickly. I think students are making a conscious decision to wait a while before joining an association. In many cases, they want to pass their first-year exams before joining.’
According to Leon Vervooren, Secretary of External Communications for the Laurentius association, 32 percent of students joining Laurentius this year were second-year or even more senior students. Vervooren does not believe that the rise in second-year student membership will prove to be a trend. ‘Rotterdam has simply got more students this year, so it’s only natural that membership should go up as well.’