The conservative-liberal party VVD wants to allocate some of the revenue from the student loan system to the highly populated technological universities.
The VVD, as well as the CDA and the ChristenUnie, dislikes the idea that technological universities are having to limit student enrolment because they can’t cope with the growing number of students. They have asked Jet Bussemaker on several occasions to give more money to education programmes which the job market needs.
The now outgoing Minister has frequently said that she sees no reason for this and that temporarily limiting student enrolment at the Universities of Technology (TUs) is not such a bad thing. According to her figures, only 91 students were unable to embark on their preferred technical study programme in September.
Last Friday, VVD Member of Parliament Pieter Duisenberg came up with a new proposal. On BNR Nieuwsradio, he suggested allocating some of the millions resulting from the abolition of the basic student grant to the technological universities.
Jarmo Berkhout, chairman of the Dutch National Union of Students, finds the proposal ‘astonishing’. Solutions must be found for the capacity problems at the TUs, but not at the expense of students.
“The VVD wants to give the TUs money that is intended for all students. Normally, universities and colleges make ‘pre-investments’ to improve education. This means they are anticipating the revenue from the student loan system already allocated to them. With this proposal, the government is not fulfilling its agreements and you can’t make policy. This is absurd.”
The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) is not happy with Duisenberg’s proposal either. “Yes, there are capacity problems at the universities of technology and these must be resolved with extra investments. But that must not be done with money that is collected from all students. The agreement was that the money would be used to improve the education of all students.”
“Politicians may not go back on previous agreements,’ says the spokesperson of the Dutch Association of Universities of Applied Sciences. “These say that the revenue from the student loan system is intended for all students and that the pre-investments of universities and colleges are continued.”
The Ministry would only release a written response: “Agreements were reached with institutions – including the TUs – and students about the revenue from the student loans. All students must benefit, not just the students at the TUs. It is now up to the universities to make a joint plan to manage the problems they are experiencing.”
“And it’s up to the business community to ensure that technology is and continues to be a more attractive sector to (continue t0) work in, because many students of technology still end up in a non-technological job or go abroad.”