At some point in the near future, students who are on the board of a student association full time for a one-year period will no longer have to pay tuition fees. Minister Bussemaker of Education told the Dutch Lower House on Wednesday that she will exempt such students from paying tuition fees.
On Wednesday, the House was discussing the democratisation of tertiary education institutions when Michel Rog, an MP for CDA, brought up an old plan. Allow students not to pay tuition fees while they’re running a club or an association for a year, he suggested.
Students have been arguing for a ‘tuition-fee-free year of managerial experience’ for years. Those who run a large student association or are on the student council generally don’t attend lectures, and moreover they do useful work, so why should they be required to pay tuition fees?
At present students running an association are allowed to formally de-enrol from their course, so as not to have to pay any tuition fees. Generally speaking, they obtain a ‘management grant’ from their university, but they cannot get a loan from the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs [Education Executive Agency], nor are they allowed to keep the free public transport chip cards to which tertiary students are entitled. As a result, taking a year off to help run an association can be rather expensive.
‘All students should be able to help run a student association for a year, even students whose parents may not be able to make much of a contribution,’ Minister Bussemaker stated. Therefore, she is going to try and allow universities to keep students on their books without charging them any tuition fees.
Minister Bussemaker chose not to make any statements as to whether the proposal will apply to all students or merely to students whose parents are unable to provide much (or indeed any) financial support. She will discuss all that at the beginning of 2016, when the Lower House will consider a bill designed to improve student participation in tertiary education institutions.