“Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay!?

“Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay!?Student organizations have welcomed the Dutch cabinet’s decision to delay their plan of replacing Dutch Master students’ grants with student loans. The minister of education, Jet Bussemaker, confirmed last week that the new system will not be implemented in 2014 as initially planned, but rather in 2015.

Bussemaker also pledged to revise the proposed system after it became clear the plan in its current form does not enjoy the critical support it needs in parliament’s upper house if it was to be adopted.

However, the minister described the switch from grants to loans as “essential” to free up money and invest in education.

Dutch students will also be able to enjoy free public transport for an additional year as plans to abolish this privilege has also been put on ice - instead of 2016 it will now only be implemented in 2017.

Dutch Student Unions like the Landelijke Studenten Vakbond (LSVb) have welcomed the announcement, but continued its call that both plans should be completely abandoned. Its chairperson, Jorien Janssen, said in a statement students still face uncertainty. “Plans in The Hague change by the season but students have to think about the long term.” He accused the minister of not being open to alternatives.

NOS reported opposition parties like the liberals “D66” and Greens “Groenlinks” are in principle not against the proposed loan system, but unhappy about the plan in its current form. It is foreseen the switch would first be implemented for master students, then for bachelor students. Groenlinks wants provision for poor students and is also against abolishing free transport for students.

The minister will present a revised version of the plan in the summer of 2014. In defending the plan she said last week: “If we wish to realize our ambitions, then we need resources. The number of students in higher education has grown enormously. That is a very good development, but it threatens to put the quality (of education) under pressure.”

WUP 16/12/2013

by Anesca Smith

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