No more student grants for habitual truants

20th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Adult students in vocational education who routinely skip classes risk having their student grants terminated.

The education ministry announced on Monday it wanted intermediate vocational colleges ROCs to start making more frequent use of this option. Rotterdam is the first local council to clearly state its intention of strictly implementing this policy to reduce the number of drop outs among adult students at the ROCs.

The government wants to reduce the number of ROC drop outs from nearly 40,000 to 25,000 a year. It’s mainly the 18 and 19-year-old students who leave school without a diploma. According to Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt, “Absenteeism is a forerunner of quitting school before graduation. A properly functioning central registration office is important, as is the optimal use of existing legislation.”

The option of penalising students by terminating their student grants has only rarely been used so far. Minister Van Bijsterveldt has pointed out to the ROCs that they must impose financial sanctions on students who habitually skip school. It is seen as the only way to address the problem of college dropouts, because adult students no longer fall under the Compulsory Education Law.

Rotterdam is to launch a pilot at two ROCs in which students are immediately warned of the financial consequences of long-term absenteeism even after just one day of skipping school. According to Rotterdam alderman Hugo de Jonge, “A student grant is not a couch-potato loan.”

He said it was hugely important to use this instrument to encourage young people to get their diploma. “Drop outs are much less likely to find a good job and often dependent on benefits. Cracking down on the high number of dropouts also means cracking down on youth unemployment.’’

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