The Minister for Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, emphasised that most students do not deliberately ‘forget’ to cancel their student plan. “When students near the end of their degrees, they have a lot on their minds. As a result, they often don’t get round to cancelling the student plan on their public transport chip cards in time, or they simply aren’t completely sure when they are supposed to do so.”
Politicians complained for many years about the tens of millions of euros’ worth of fines students had to pay each year if they failed to cancel the student plan on their public transport chip cards in time. They asked why students’ chip cards weren’t being blocked automatically as soon as they lost the right to use them. A reconstruction performed by HOP in 2017 showed that the public transport companies weren’t exactly working hard on implementing the technological upgrades that could have put a stop to the sky-high fines.
In July 2018 Van Engelshoven reported that automatic cancellation of the student plans might be feasible after all. NS (Dutch Rail) conducted a test involving a so-called unrestricted blacklist. In the meantime, other measures had to be implemented to reduce the number of fines imposed on students.
For instance, DUO started providing students with better information. Starting from 1 January 2019, fines were only imposed if former students had actually used the student plan on their public transport chip cards to travel. Furthermore, those students who had used their plans after graduating saw the amount of their fines reduced in the first month, and students were given more time to cancel their student plans.
The Minister for Education hopes that the number of fines will continue to decrease, and called the current decrease ‘a good result’. She announced that, starting from this year, student plans on public transport chip cards will be automatically terminated by public transport companies following a student’s graduation, by means of a blacklist. “As a result, even fewer students will be fined.”