The Dutch Student Union (LSVb) regularly receives complaints about DUO. “Certainly, DUO is an important organisation for students,” says LSVb chair Alex Tess Rutten. “DUO lends students money to pay for living expenses and it manages their student debts. If something goes wrong, students can be badly affected.”
The student union fields questions about DUO almost daily, especially at the start of the academic year. “Students come to us to double-check that the information they have been given is correct.” Rutten says that while the union is happy to help, “it is actually the government’s task to provide students with accurate information.”
The Dutch parliament is due to discuss the problems at DUO on 16 October. However, if members of parliament are to have an effective debate, they will first need sufficient information, according to the LSVb, which is why the student union wants to draw up an overview of students’ experiences prior to the debate. Rutten: “When the student loan system is at full capacity, DUO manages €4 billion in student debt. The organisation needs to have the infrastructure to handle that.”
DUO welcomes the hotline. “If there are complaints, we want to know about them. We have a complaints department ourselves, but I can imagine that students might find the LSVb easier to approach,” said a spokesperson when asked.
However, the spokesperson was unable to confirm whether DUO employees ever actually give incorrect advice. The organisation did make headway in reducing the long waiting times over the summer, although the figures confirming this improvement are yet to be released.