The minister for Education, Science and Culture, Jet Bussemaker, will soon face opposition in the Senate. Senators are critical of her legislative proposal that is meant to improve governance at educational institutions.

Many of the Senate parties feel that the Improved Governance (Higher Education) Act is completely unsound. And amendments made by their own parties are partly responsible for this.

Thanks to the new legislation, programme committees and participation in decision-making councils have more power, student board members no longer have to pay tuition fees, and it will be more difficult to allow examination results to expire.

But senators have also expressed concerns that some of the points contained in the legislation are disjointed, as revealed in written questions submitted by the VVD, PvdA, CDA, ChristenUnie, and SGP. They did not hesitate to criticise their colleagues in the Lower House.

Vague wording

In their criticism the VVD senators stated that the description of which students are eligible for tuition-free board posts is far too vague. They described the wording drafted in the Lower House by VVD Member of Parliament Pieter Duisenberg as ‘relatively arbitrary and virtually unrestricted.’

The PvdA group is concerned about the pace of study now that examination grades are not subject to the same expiration terms as before. This was an amendment in the legislation fought for tooth and nail by Mohammed Mohandis in the Lower House. And then the D66 senators questioned whether the participation in decision-making bodies would now have too much power, something that was never expressed by the party in the Lower House.

Lower House

The legislative proposal was adopted by the Lower House in February, but not before a series of amendments was submitted. Due to the numerous amendments stipulated by the House, voting on the legislation was even postponed for a week. The minister wanted to correctly process everything to avoid any errors or inconsistencies in the legislation.

In the Lower House all parties voted for the legislation with the exception of the SGP, PVV and the Bontes-Van Klaveren group. Minister Bussemaker now first has to respond to the questions from the Senate. The corresponding debate has not yet been scheduled.