Senior government advisor questions student loan logic

23rd September 2014, Comments 1 comment

The Council of State has criticised the government’s decision to scrap student grants, saying there is no certainty the savings will be ploughed back into education as pledged.

On Monday, draft legislation ending the current system of grants was introduced in parliament.

Education minister Jet Bussemaker earlier won the support of three opposition parties for the plan by promising the money she saved would be used to improve educational standards.

The council, which is the government’s most senior advisory body, says it had doubts about Bussemaker’s assertion that individuals profit more from higher education than society as a whole.

This is one of her key arguments for replacing grants with extra loans from the next academic year.

On November 14, some 14 student and youth organisations will demonstrate against the plans.

Anchored in law

Student unions say the move will add at least EUR 15,000 to the average debt that students have when they graduate.

In addition, the promised improvements in education have to be anchored in law, the student bodies say.

At the moment, Dutch students are given a basic grant of EUR 279.14 if they live away from home and EUR 100.25 if home-based.

On average, they leave university with around EUR 15,000 in debts.

The loans are subject to interest rate rises.

Spending cuts

The new rules state that students whose parents earn less than EUR 46,000 a year or whose parents cannot be traced will still be entitled to a grant.

Students will have 35 years to pay back the loan once they have graduated and do not have to start repaying their debt until they earn at least the minimum wage.

However, the student public transport card, which entitles students to use trams, buses and trains free of charge either at weekends or during the week, will remain.

Vocational training

It will also be extended to cover vocational training students (mbo) who currently have to pay for their own transport costs.

The end of student grants will affect all new bachelor's and master's students from 2015.

The deal was reached with the D66 Liberals and the left-wing greens GroenLinks, whose support is necessary to make sure the reforms get through the upper house of parliament.



1 Comment To This Article

  • HTD posted:

    on 23rd September 2014, 23:09:30 - Reply

    When is this inward-looking craziness going to stop?
    This measure if promulgated would negatively impact most heavily on non-Dutch, international students, who no longer would be able to afford studying in the NL. Oddly, Dutch institutions of higher learning continue to boast of their high percentage of international students, but that would soon end. These Dutch
    system already requires them to work 56 hours a month, year-round (up from 32 last year) while no hours requirement is demanded of Dutch student at the same time.
    Let us face it, if Dutch students cannot compete on a level playing field in school, why should anyone assume that they would be able to compete in a globally competitive world later on.
    International students are important not only because of the mix of thinking and experience they bring to our country, but they also help prepare Dutch students for a future of constantly increasing competition from abroad. In brutal terms, these non-Dutch students act like we do immunizing our children
    against Polio, Measles, Mumps and Chickenpox by exposing them to a bit of educational 'foreign matter', before they are devastated by it later in larger doses in the real world.
    Do we really want to leave our next generation educationally disabled by having them graduate and thinking that they do not have to compete with anyone outside our borders?