Student financing is not about punishment or reward, but an instrument to make higher education more accessible, outgoing education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf insisted two weeks ago. He was responding to a question by JA21 about whether rioters at higher education institutions – such as May’s pro-Palestinian protests at the University of Amsterdam – can be denied student financing.


Yet Dijkgraaf stopped short of ruling out action against rioting students. After all, universities and universities of applied sciences do have the right to de-enrol students who commit offences, which would effectively end their entitlement to student financing.

Joost Eerdmans of JA21 took this to heart. Last week, he submitted a motion calling on the minister to remind higher education institutions that they can de-enrol students who are guilty of serious misconduct. “With a view to halting the student financing of the students concerned.”

Ahead of the vote in the House of Representatives, the minister let it be known that he had no desire to do so. In his view, it’s not his job to tell the higher education sector how to deal with troublemakers.

11edag_9juni2024_B2_protest palestina gaza campus plaza studenten politie ontruiming muur protestborden spreker megafoon6_9.6.24_Daan Stam

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But after nearly a year as outgoing education minister, Dijkgraaf is a remnant of the old political order. Last November’s general election resulted in a new, right-wing majority – one that takes a very different view of such issues. Three of the four new coalition parties – PVV, VVD and BBB – backed Eerdman’s motion.

However, their coalition ally NSC voted against, denying the motion a majority. In doing so, NSC appears to take the same line as Dijkgraaf: the right to student financing should not be deployed as a punitive measure. Even calling on institutions to de-enrol rioters appears to be a step too far for the party.

Revoking visas

Another motion tabled by JA21 was passed by the House. It called on the government to revoke the visas of international students if “an irrevocable conviction” found them to be “a danger to public order”. In principle, Dijkgraaf had no objection to such a step, pointing out that it’s in line with the rules as they already apply.

A call by DENK for universities to sever ties with educational institutions in Israel only gained the support of PvdD and SP.

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