It took a while, but the petition, an initiative of nursing students Britte Veltman and Amelia Zuidema, went completely viral after the summer. Tens of thousands of students at a time placed their signature to support the initiative.

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Stiffed students demand compensation in massive numbers

Students who weren’t given a base grant and didn’t get a discount on their first year…

Why are these students so angry?

Due to changes in the student loan system, they’re at a disadvantage because they fall between the cracks. They were too late to receive the basic grant, which was discontinued in 2015, and they are too early to be eligible for the 50% reduction in first-year tuition fees that came into effect just this year. They want be compensated. In other words, they want money.

But wasn’t there some kind of arrangement where they received a gift voucher for extra education?

That’s correct. The first students who weren’t eligible for the basic grant received a two thousand euro voucher. This voucher could be spent on additional education within five to ten years after graduating. It was nothing more than a token gesture.

Why is that not enough?

Both nursing students say it’s useless in their case. In their profession it has been common practice for some time now to arrange your own additional training. That will happen regardless, and the employer pays for it. In their situation, the voucher is of no use to them.

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Three hundred demonstrators protest high study expenses

Some three hundred students and pupils marched through The Hague last Saturday to protest…

Is there a chance these students will be compensated?

Certainly. They’ve adopted a plan from the student lobby where students would be able to use these vouchers now; for a master’s programme, for example. Politicians have been receptive to this idea. A number of parties submitted a joint motion to make it possible to use these vouchers earlier than the five to ten years now stipulated. Despite a lack of support from the Minister of Education, an overwhelming majority voted for the motion, with only the VVD against it.

Is it signed, sealed and delivered?

Not yet. The plan will only come into force if the revenues from the new student loan system (which replaced the basic grant) are also made available for universities and universities of applied sciences at an earlier date. These institutions advocated this idea. The minister will see if this is possible and is not predisposed to reject this idea.

When would it come into effect?

If the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science doesn’t take too long, the earliest it could come into effect is September 2019. But it could easily be a year later. If there is any kind of delay, the first students could find themselves the victims of bad timing yet again. They will miss out if their studies proceed rapidly and they have already completed their master’s programme.

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