These students may redeem their vouchers (with a value of around €2,000) between five and ten years of graduating. But political parties GroenLinks and CDA had an idea. Couldn’t they use their vouchers to pursue a Master’s programme while at university? That would make a difference in the costs of running the scheme, after all. A parliamentary majority supported the idea.

Not possible, Minister Van Engelshoven has now written in a letter about the Education Executive Agency (DUO). Such a move would involve an enormous adjustment to the system that would have to take place with no delays

Moreover, it would require a legislative amendment, and it is questionable whether that could be done in time, according to the minister. And that is to say nothing of the financial complications. The minister refers to ‘irresponsible risks inherent in the implementation’.

Information campaign

The minister did however promise that students will be able to use the vouchers flexibly: they will not be required to spend the entire voucher at a single education institute. An effective information campaign has also been promised, since many students are not aware that they may be entitled to these vouchers.

Students’ organisation ISO is fed up with the situation. ‘This has put a damper on things,’ says ISO chair Kees Gilesse. ‘The study vouchers would have had far greater value for students if they were allowed to redeem them during their time at university.’