Student organisations LSVb and ISO are angry with the new government. A thousand-euro discount for first years may sound great, but according to the organisations this is coming from the students’ own pockets. And students from poor families are footing most of the bill.
The student organisations give vent to their views in a series of press releases. The Dutch National Union of Students (LSVb) and the Dutch National Students’ Association (ISO) are deeply disappointed that the basic grant won’t be returning.
The new coalition could at least have increased the supplementary grant. By failing to do so, ‘the new coalition has lost the opportunity to repair the damage caused by the student loan system’, says LSVb president Tariq Sewbaransingh.
The main points from the coalition agreement for students:
- First-year students will now receive a thousand-euro discount on their tuition fees
- Interest rate on student loans is going up
- Programmes may only be taught in English if this provides added value
- Master programmes may continue to select their students, but will soon have to fulfil more stringent requirements
- Every graduate from a bachelor programme is entitled to access to at least one master programme within their own subject area
- Bachelor programmes may no longer decide independently to set a numerus fixus
No top priority
‘While defence gets an extra 1.5 billion, higher education has to make do with some spare change’
His colleague Rhea van der Dong from the Dutch National Students’ Association is equally disappointed. “Higher education is evidently no top priority for the new cabinet. While defence gets an extra 1.5 billion, higher education has to make do with some spare change.” She doesn’t feel that the CDA and the ChristenUnie are fulfilling their election promises.
The four parties in Rutte III want to halve tuition fees for first-year students (and second-year teacher training (pabo) students), but the student organisations do not applaud this proposal. It’s just ‘a symbolic measure’ which will have absolutely no effect, says the LSVb.
Furthermore, students will have to pay it themselves because the interest rate on student loans is going up. The revenue from that (around two hundred million euros) is exactly enough to cover the discount on tuition fees. So students will end up paying for it of out of their own pockets.
And another sore point: rich students without a student loan don’t pay anything towards it. The measure mainly hits students who are forced to accumulate a higher student debt.
‘Even though there’s no improvement in their income position, students still have to spend more money on their daily shopping’
In addition, the increase in VAT from 6 to 9 percent hits students the hardest, the ISO claims. “Even though there’s no improvement in their income position, students still have to spend more money on their daily shopping.”
Is there anything good to report then? Yes, actually. The ISO is delighted that the new cabinet plans to critically review selection at the gates of master programmes. This must not stand in the way of accessibility.
But we’ll have to await developments there too. Will there really be less selection? According to the ISO, the coalition agreement does not make this clear. We will also have to wait and see what the introduction of customised diplomas in secondary education (a senior general secondary education (havo) diploma with a number of subjects at pre-university (vwo) level) will mean for selection at the gates of bachelor programmes.