The basic student grant will not be making a comeback in the coming coalition agreement. However, first-year students will receive a 1000-euro discount on their tuition fees. This discount also applies to second-year teacher training (pabo) students, according to a report in the Algemeen Dagblad this weekend. This week VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie are expected to present their coalition agreement, which will include these plans.
Together with PvdA and GroenLinks, VVD and D66 abolished the basic student grant to be able to spend more money on higher education. This generated hundreds of millions of euros.
‘When you consider that most students will finish their studies with a debt of twenty thousand euros, this is cold comfort’
During the election campaign, CDA and ChristenUnie made an impassioned plea for the return of the basic student grant, at least for bachelor students. The chosen compromise, lowering tuition fees, was a predictable outcome.
By providing a discount in the first year, the parties want to keep higher education accessible to students who don’t have much money and who are uncertain whether they will be able to manage the programme. The abolition of the basic student grant had made the step to higher education more difficult for some groups of students, such as those in senior secondary vocational education.
Pure gesture politics
Abolishing the basic student grant attracted fierce opposition from the two national student organisations LSVb and ISO, who organised a demonstration for their members on Malieveld and took every opportunity to appeal for a return of the student grant.
In an initial response, ISO president Rhea van der Dong calls the one-thousand-euro reduction in tuition fees for first years ‘pure gesture politics’. The basic student grant was obviously worth much more than this. “When you consider that most students will finish their studies with a debt of twenty thousand euros, this is cold comfort.”