Last year, the Dutch Lower House voted in favour of the plan to raise the interest rate levied on student loans from 2020, albeit by the smallest majority possible. The Cabinet planned to link the interest rate to the 10-year interest rate on government loans, which would cause former students with an average-sized loan (€21,000) and an above-average income to pay some €12 more per month than they are currently doing. The plan was designed to add an annual €226 million to the government’s coffers.
However, last week the Dutch Senate indicated that it was not in favour of Ingrid van Engelshoven’s bill, saying that they feared access to higher education would be jeopardised. The Minister even failed to convince the senators representing her own party, D66, and the one-woman party that is Anne-Wil Duthler, whose vote might have prevented a majority.
The Minister then discussed the bill once again with the Council of Ministers, only to withdraw the bill yesterday. “When the bill was voted on by the Senate, I found that there was not enough support for it,” she wrote in a statement.
The student unions were very happy to hear the news. Tom van den Brink, the President of the Dutch National Students’ Association (Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg), had the following to say: “For nearly a year, we kept criticising the plan, and we were heard. This is a tremendous victory for students and access to education.”
For her part, Carline van Breugel, the President of the National Student Union (Landelijke Studentenvakbond), said, “In the last year we have fought the interest rate increase very hard. Now that we’ve been successful, students will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.”