UNL President Pieter Duisenberg is pleased with the extra money for higher education and research: “This will enable us to reduce workloads and put more people on permanent employment contracts, while scientists will have more time”, he said.
Duisenberg believes that the extra money for research is vital to tackling the major challenges of our day and age, such as the energy transition, digitalisation and inequality of opportunity. Research universities are also positive about the level of funding for student well-being and knowledge security.
However, they worry about the rising energy prices they are facing. In spite of their ongoing efforts to operate more sustainably and make savings, their combined energy bill is likely to increase by € 150 million in 2023. Duisenberg called on students to wrap up warm when coming to lectures, because ‘we’ll be turning down the thermostats’.
Finally, research universities lamented the absence in the central government budget of steps to increase salaries and adjust prices to counteract the high rate of inflation that their employees are seeing themselves confronted with.
The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences welcomed the additional investments in applied research. According to Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences President Maurice Limmen, this will make it possible for universities of applied sciences to innovate both teaching and professional practice. “With this measure, the government acknowledges the key role that universities of applied sciences play in their regions – a role that will need to be consolidated further in the long term.”
In that sense, Limmen deemed the investments a ‘step in the right direction’. He also highlighted the need for a long-term increase in funding over the coming years to promote lifelong learning, referring to the process of retraining and providing further training to the workforce.
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Dutch Student Union (LSVb)
For LSVb Chair Joram van Velzen, Budget Day left a bittersweet aftertaste. “Although more money is being made available to students, it won’t ease their huge financial worries.”
He approves of the temporary € 165 increase in the basic grant for students living away from home. However, this only applies to the 2023–2024 academic year. As far as he is concerned, this is insufficient in view of the spiralling inflation.
On top of that, not all students living away from home will be paid an energy allowance by their municipality, in spite of a court ruling in their favour. The LSVb cannot comprehend why the government is shying away from a national scheme. It believes that the € 35 million that the government has made available to municipalities for individual special assistance to students in need is inadequate, given that it will only benefit 1 in every 20 students living away from home.
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Dutch National Student Association (ISO)
The ISO is not entirely satisfied with the central government budget either: “The package presented today is substantial, but it won’t help every student”, Chair Terri van der Velden said. The ISO stressed that many students are not covered by the package. Because they failed to complete their studies within the official time period, they will not be paid a basic grant this year and the next. “This means the support measure is of no use to them.”