Since 1 September, European students studying in the Netherlands have to work fewer hours to qualify for full student financing. The original requirement that they work at least 56 hours per month has now been lowered to 32 hours, and in some cases even as few as 24 hours per month. Last month, Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf amended the student loan rules of the Education Executive Agency (DUO) following a court ruling.
MPs Hatte van der Woude (VVD) and Pieter Omtzigt asked Dijkgraaf whether this might provide a financial incentive for students to come to the Netherlands. Especially if those students also receive child benefit or any other financial assistance from their home country.
“Yes”, replied Dijkgraaf, although he did not believe that money was the main reason to study here. He pointed out that the growth in the number of international students in the Netherlands mainly occurred during the years of the student loan system, when basic student grants were not provided.
He could not yet give a figure for how much the new hours requirement would cost the treasury. The government was expecting something in the region of 39 million euros a year following an earlier easing of the rules, although that amount could rise further after the latest court ruling. In 2021, 8,572 international students received student financing from the Dutch government, compared with 11,554 students last year.
EEA students may also be eligible for supplementary grants. The assessment of their parental income does not take into consideration the price level in their country of origin. “That would mean making a distinction between Dutch students and other EEA students.” And that is not allowed, says Dijkgraaf.
He expects little from further talks at European level. The free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the European Union ‘whose benefits and burdens are experienced by the Netherlands’. He believes that any discussion on this matter ‘will not have the desired effect’.