The motion was filed by D66, CDA, ChristenUnie and GroenLinks. VVD and the Forum for Democracy were the only parties voting against it.

Some degree programmes require prospective students to take a compulsory admission test, whose fee is to be borne by them. For instance, students may have to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), which measures students’ verbal, mathematical and analytical skills. Such tests tend to cost hundreds of euros. It is mainly international students who are required to take such tests, although sometimes Dutch students have to sit them, too.


Last month, the initiator of the motion, Paul van Meenen (an MP for D66), said it was ‘absurd’ that students were charged so much money before even embarking on their degree. He also raised the subject of inequality of opportunity. “People who can afford it, can sit the test as many times as they like, or hire a tutor. If you don’t have any money, you’re out of luck.”

The former Minister for Education, Jet Bussemaker, decided a year ago that departments were no longer allowed to charge fees for admission tests, and amended legislation accordingly. However, not all departments complied with the new rules. The new Minister for Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, has now committed to preventing this from happening.

'It’s about time they stopped doing this'

LSVb (the National Student Union) is relieved and expects the fees for admission tests to be abolished at once. “For years now, universities have wrongfully made students pay for tests such as GMATS and TOEFL. It’s about time they stopped doing so.” The Union called on students who are still being charged for such tests to get in touch with LSVb.

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands, VSNU, previously announced that it felt it would not make sense for knowledge institutions to have to bear the costs of all these tests. According to VSNU’s spokesperson, the tests are not a selection tool, but rather an admission requirement. However, the spokesperson did acknowledge that the tests constitute a barrier for students seeking to get a university degree. Therefore, VSNU is looking for ways to reduce the costs of language proficiency tests.

Second degrees

Today, the Lower House also put a stop to universities charging exorbitant tuition fees for second degrees. A motion filed by D66 politician Paul van Meenen and Lisa Westerveld of GroenLinks to curb the so-called university-set tuition fees was accepted by a great majority of voters. Here, too, VVD and the Forum for Democracy were the only parties voting against the motion.

The motion mainly concerns tuition fees for students taking a second degree after completing a first Bachelor or Master degree. Since universities and universities of applied sciences do not receive any government funding for such students, they have until now been able to set their own level of tuition fees, but they will now be prevented from doing so.

The Minister for Education had previously announced that she supported the motion filed by fellow D66 politician Van Meenen, and now that the Lower House has voted in favour, there will be a legally enforced tuition fee cap. Tuition fees must not exceed the statutory tuition fee plus the amount the government generally contributes for each first-time student. Van Engelshoven said universities should not construe the amendment as an encouragement to charge this maximum level of tuition fees as a matter of course.