The number of new higher education students from parents with lower education has dropped since implementation of the student loan system. This is diametrically opposed to the promise made by Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker when introducing the scheme.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science published the 2015 Policy Measures Monitor on Tuesday morning. This contains the results of a survey on students’ choice of study programmes and their behaviour and borrowing practices after implementation of the loan system, and the relevant measures taken.

Fewer first-generation students

The enrolment of first-generation students at universities has dropped by 4 percentage points compared to last year and by 7 percentage points at institutes for higher professional education. This means that the warnings given by many parties have now become reality. “Exactly two years ago, just before the loan system was introduced, Minister Bussemaker said that everyone would benefit from this system,” says Linde de Nie, president of the ISO national student organisation. “But this monitor shows that the loan system actually hits vulnerable groups of students the hardest.”

‘No worries’

In an interview with the NOS on Tuesday, Minister Bussemaker remained calm when confronted with the first reactions to the Monitor’s findings. She is not worried about the decrease, because she maintains that this is due to the large number of youngsters going to university straight from school after their final exams in 2013 and 2014 in order to qualify for the basic student grant. Now that the loan system has definitely been implemented, the Minister thinks that school leavers will once again decide to take a year off after their exams. But her own report is less positive about this: “We cannot express any certainty at present on the extent to which [the decline in first-generation students] indicates an accessibility problem.”

ISO argues that the Minister’s analysis is not sufficiently substantiated, while Socialist Party MP Jasper van Dijk has already asked a number of questions in the House due to the survey results.