Just before the last general election, the House of Representatives made a decision to reduce the tax benefit for expats. The proceeds were to be used to lower interest rates for students who missed out on the basic student grant.

But how do you actually reduce student loan interest rates? Outgoing Minister of Education Robbert Dijkgraaf sent a letter to the House outlining three options: an interest discount, an interest rate cap or an annual compensation. Take your pick, was his message.

Since then, the proposed reduction of the tax break for expats has become a contentious issue, as tech companies are threatening to leave the Netherlands. But if the decision were to be reversed, it remains unclear how the next government would compensate the so-called ‘bad luck generation’ of students.


On Tuesday, D66 MP Jan Paternotte tried to put the issue on the House agenda. “Time is running out. Next year, we might not be able to give the students of the bad luck generation what they were promised”, he said. “This is why we would like to have a debate.”

The minister didn’t even need to be present, he added, ‘because it’s really up to the House now anyway, and perhaps more specifically to the potential coalition partners. In any case, I think it would be good to have this debate soon’.

D66’s request received widespread support, but not from the potential coalition partners, PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB. Although PVV MP Reinder Blaauw called it an important proposal, he wanted ‘a letter first and then a committee debate’.

VVD and BBB agreed. NSC leader Pieter Omtzigt also wanted to see a letter first (‘within two weeks’) and took a swipe at the parties responsible for introducing the student loan system: “I find it very interesting that all the parties that gave us the loan system are now in such a hurry to arrange compensation. I applaud that.” The system was greenlighted by VVD, D66, PvdA and GroenLinks.

Letter about what?

Paternotte didn’t understand the potential coalition partners’ reservations, noting that there was already a letter outlining the available options. “I really find it incredibly peculiar that a letter is being requested. I think the education minister has no idea what this letter would even be about.”

But that’s where the discussion ended, to Paternotte’s surprise. His attempt to prod Speaker Martin Bosma – “Do you know?” – remained fruitless.

Studenten over hun studieschuld die stijgt_samir Abdullayev

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