On Monday, medical students protesting the new loan system offered the House of Representatives a petition with 22,000 signatures. The students believe they are disproportionately affected by the new loan system. Since they spend 55 hours per week in clinical rotation during their three-year master’s phase, medical students don’t have time for a job on the side. They risk running up a huge debt as a result. Students who are less well-off may be afraid to enter into that level of debt, particularly since today’s junior doctors are finding it harder to secure work than in the past.

Nevertheless, Minister Bussemaker takes a different view. While she acknowledges that medical interns don’t have much time for a part-time job, according to the Minister, students will receive better education thanks to the introduction of the study advance. Most of the costs of the expensive medical degree programme are still covered by the State, and students who follow up their degree with training to become a GP or medical specialist receive a salary.

And Bussemaker is hardly worried about physicians’ prospects in the employment market: “These students amply recoup the extra investment they have made into their education later on.” And if this does not happen for whatever reason, their loan debt will eventually be cancelled just like any other student’s would.