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‘Students with student loans suffer greater anxiety and pressure to perform’

Emotionally exhausted, tired and a fear of burning out. Students with student loans…

Frank Futselaar, an MP for the Socialist Party (SP), told the Lower House last Tuesday that the Minister for Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, has always denied that there is a connection between the new student loan system and the level of anxiety experienced by students. He said he wished to enter into a debate with the Minister on the outcomes of the study conducted by ISO and on the consequences it will have for the student loan system, but he did not receive enough support for such a debate. Instead, there will be a Thirty Member Debate. Furthermore, the subject will be put on the agenda for a meeting on the accessibility of higher education to be held on 20 February.


On Thursday, Futselaar asked the Minister whether she is willing to include the effects of the student loan system in the in-depth study on students’ emotional wellbeing to be carried out by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), after all.

Futselaar said that it would be good if RIVM were to explicitly ask students about the effects of their student loans and debts. “If you only ask students how they are feeling in general, they may not even include that aspect in their answers.”

Whole stack of factors

Last September, Van Engelshoven refused to admit that increased student loan debt was a major contributor to the mental health issues experienced by students. She referred critics to a study that showed that the percentage of students with financial problems had fallen since 2012, although there was a slight increase in 2018.

She stated that students’ mental health issues were caused by ‘a whole stack of factors, such as the demands students impose on themselves, the pressure they experience due to social media, and the pressure associated with successfully completing a degree’.

According to one of the Minister’s spokespersons, RIVM was only asked to focus on students’ general emotional wellbeing in the follow-up study. “If [the students] are experiencing any mental health issues because they are concerned about their financial situation, they will indicate as much, and the study results will reflect it.”