It’s unfair, write Britte and Amelia in their petition. While the first intake under the new loan system had to make do without a base grant, they also missed out on the 50% discount on tuition fees for first-year students.
The two behind the online initiative refer to ‘stiffed students’ and ‘discriminatory treatment of Dutch students’. They are demanding ‘money in compensation’.
And apparently, they’ve touched a nerve. The petition could already be found online in June, but last week it suddenly received a new wave of tens of thousands of signatures. Putting the present counter at over 114,000.
Students get a voucher
The base grant was abolished in 2015 to free up new funds for the higher education sector. However, it would take a few years before this budget became available. This is actually the first year that the initial millions will be forwarded to the research universities and universities of applied sciences.
That’s why the government decided to offer these students a € 2000 voucher that they can spend on further education five to ten years after graduation. The underlying idea is that this will allow them to also benefit from the upgrade of the education sector that is on the horizon.
Incidentally, the higher education institutions are also expected to make an ‘advance investment’ in the improvement of their curricula. They will be doing this in anticipation of the extra funds that will be freed up – so that students without a base grant don’t have to wait to benefit from the change.
It remains to be seen whether the universities will actually be spending the funds for that purpose. The Netherlands Court of Audit has its doubts. But the research universities and universities of applied sciences are adamant they will.
In their petition, Britte and Amelia (they didn’t give their surnames) didn’t share their thoughts on these vouchers and advance investments.