The slashing of the tuition fees only applies to people who have not attended a university or university of applied sciences before. Starting from the second year of their degree programmes, students will have to pay full fees, except for those who are taking a teacher training degree, who will enjoy halved fees for the first two years of their degree. However, students following a university-taught Master programme in teacher training will not see their tuition fees halved until the 2021-2022 academic year.
The Minister for Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, promised the senate that the measure would be evaluated after three years. The Minister’s substantiation of the proposal came in for a great deal of criticism.
GroenLinks Senator Ruard Ganzevoort was the most vocal of the proposal’s critics. He asked the government to seek to underpin future proposals with actual study outcomes – a request supported by a considerable majority of his fellow senators.
VVD Senator Jan Bruijn wishes the government to give more guarantees that the universities and universities of applied sciences will not end up paying the price for the newly to be implemented measure. After all, while the universities will receive compensation for the reduction in their tuition fees, they will also incur additional expenses. Bruijn wishes the Minister for Education to ascertain beyond a doubt that the education institutions will not lose out, budget-wise. Van Engelshoven said she assumed that the institutions would sound the alarm themselves if this were the case, but the majority of senators felt this was too non-committal.
A motion filed by PvdA asking that the interest rate on student loans not be increased, as proposed, was rejected, as was a motion filed by PVV asking that international student intake be limited.
'Halving of tuition fees equals leaving the work half done'
The National Student Union (LSVb) is not too keen on the plan, either. “Less privileged students who have student loans will end up paying for the tuition fee reduction in a roundabout way, because the interest rate on their student loans will be increased,” the Union stated. While the fee reduction is a good thing for first-year students, it will not mean much in terms of creating equal opportunities. The Union states that it is precisely students who are unable to attend uni without a loan who will be the ones to pay the price for the fee reduction.
“The measure will only increase poor students’ student loan debt, even though it is precisely a fear of incurring debts that is preventing them from getting a degree,” said Geertje Hulzebos, the President of the National Student Union. “Therefore, we hereby call on the Cabinet to make some actual investments in higher education, rather than merely implementing symbolic measures.”