“Students are again being left out in the cold by the cabinet,” say student organisations ISO and LSVb in a joint press release. “Funding cuts to higher education are being stepped up.”

University association VSNU is angry too: “The doubling of the spending cuts is a slap in the face for students and teaching staff,” says president Pieter Duisenberg in an initial response.


By introducing these new spending cuts, the Ministry wants to close a hole in the budget. This was the result of a rise in the number of people studying and students graduating faster than planned. The hole may be bigger, but there have also been some positives.

According to previous plans, higher education was already required to cut expenditure by 22 million euros. This controversial ‘efficiency cut’ increases to almost 44 million euros from 2021, plus another 5.9 million euros on research.

Higher education should actually have received more than 200 million euros from the proceeds of the new student loan system: in 2015 the basic grant was abolished and universities and universities of applied sciences should now have been reaping the benefits. That is happening, but the new cuts will be deducted from that.

Bring forward

VSNU, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands, hopes that the government will bring forward the proceeds from the new loan system and spend it now on higher education. That wouldn’t cost them any extra money, but it would create more resources for universities and universities of applied sciences.

President of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, Thom de Graaf, calls the extra cuts on higher education funding, 8 million euros from higher professional education, “unexpected and incomprehensible”. It is all the more essential to bring forward the student loan resources as proposed by the VSNU,” according to De Graaf.

But student organisation ISO doesn’t agree. That’s just a sticking plaster approach, says ISO president Tom van den Brink. “We just need more money for higher education.”