Rotterdam will adhere to the advice of minister for Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions Carola Schouten, wrote alderman Enes Yiğit in a letter to the municipal council. The minister advises municipalities to exclude students from the allowance, as their housing situations vary considerably. Many students therefore would not be entitled to receive the energy allowance.

In addition, according to Yiğit, the municipality does not receive enough money from the government to grant students the energy allowance. If the 20,000 students living away from home were to receive the allowance, it would cost the municipality some 26 million euros. “The board cannot afford to pay even part of these costs”, Yiğit wrote.

Against advice

The alderman’s decision goes against the advice of the General Objections Committee (Algemene Bezwaarschriftencommissie, known in Dutch as the ABC). Last November, the ABC recommended that the objections of the students in Rotterdam should be declared founded.

In that recommendation, the ABC referred to the ruling issued by the District Court of Gelderland last year. The court ruled that a student who had lodged an objection was entitled to receive the energy allowance. Recently, a student in Amsterdam also won a lawsuit on the allowance.

The alderman does not rule out the possibility that a student in Rotterdam may win a similar lawsuit as well. This would give the municipality ‘stronger grounds’ to ask the government for more money, he wrote.

Image credit: Femke Legué


The judges’ rulings give Law and Business Administration student Rogier Fransen (21) hope. He lodged an objection with the municipality of Rotterdam in August of last year, and it was rejected this month. Now, he is working on writing a letter of objection, which he will share with other students through his website. “I think we have a really good chance”, he says.

GroenLinks councillor and Law student Mina Morkoç agrees. In Rotterdam’s municipal council, she has spent the past year arguing for students to receive the energy allowance. “I expect that students will be vindicated in court, as has happened in Amsterdam and Nijmegen”, she says. “Students are being wrongly excluded. The court says so, and the ABC says so.”


Morkoç understands the municipality’s financial considerations, but sees a bigger responsibility. “The municipality needs more reason to be able to ask the government for money, but I don’t think that’s a good argument for excluding students”, she says. “Now the problem is being passed on to them.” She would therefore like to see the municipality take money from its reserves and increasingly lobby the national government for more funding.

For now, the municipality is referring students with financial problems to apply for individual special assistance. This entails calculating how much money a student is entitled to based on their personal circumstances. The municipality bases its calculation on the assumption that all students earn at least 932.97 euros, which is the maximum loan amount. As a result, few students qualify for assistance. Until now, 30 students have registered for the assistance, says a spokesperson of the municipality.

Waiting for the court

Student Roger will have to wait several more months before the court issues its ruling. He finds it ‘frustrating and disappointing’ that the entire process is taking so long. “I understand that the municipality needs money”, he says. “But at the same time, I think: if you see that the policy isn’t holding up in Nijmegen and Amsterdam, just admit that it doesn’t work. Now the municipality is waiting for the court’s decision.”


Read more

Rotterdam students demand energy allowance through the courts

Rotterdam students who have missed out on the energy allowance are taking the matter to…