Students and politically engaged young people will be demonstrating against the new student loan system in The Hague on Wednesday. They feel that the abolition of the basic student grant will create inequality in education.

The student loan system is being debated in the Lower House on Wednesday. The protest will take place prior to the debate and is being organised by, among others, the LSVb, the ISO, the NJR and various political youth organisations. “We’re expecting dozens of students”, says Stefan Wirken, president of the Dutch National Union of Students, which is one of the organisations involved in launching the protest. The protestors want to draw attention to the harmful impact of the new student loan system and the abolition of the basic student grant.

Obstacle course symbolises obstacles

Ze leggen een stormbaan neer om alle hindernissen te symboliseren die studenten tegenwoordig moeten overwinnen. Daarnaast rollen ze een rode loper uit om te laten zien hoe het ook kan. Het leenstelsel noemen ze een ‘privilegestelsel’ dat de ongelijkheid in het onderwijs vergroot.

An obstacle course is being laid out to symbolise all the obstacles that students currently need to overcome. A red carpet will also be laid out to show how things could be done differently. They describe the student loan system as a privileged system which increases inequality in education.

On Wednesday, the Lower House is debating the consequences of the student loan system. “It was only announced on Friday, so we didn’t have long to organise anything”, says Wirken. “We’re not expecting a huge turnout, but we hope that as many students as possible will come.”

Return to the basic student grant

There’s a lot as stake, according to Wirken. For the protestors, the best scenario is a return to the basic student grant. With all the parties working on their new election manifestos in the light of the upcoming elections, they do see some possibilities.

But a lot can be done in the short term too. Take students with a disability, says Wirken. Some get more support from their municipal council than others. That can mean a difference of a few hundred euros.

Other options instead of a student loan system

“You could also raise the supplementary grant to compensate the loss of the basic student grant for children whose parents are on a low income. Or what about students in intermediate vocational education who move on to the higher professional education? The transition could be improved. That would at least enable you to improve the accessibility of further education for a few groups.”

For more information about the protest, visit the Facebook page Leenstelsel privilegestelsel.