News - May 8, 2012

Basic grant for Master's students safe for the time being

Master's students will keep their basic grant now that CDA and PvdA have joined GroenLinks and SP in rejecting the 'Studying means investing' bill. They are putting off the decision about a loan system until the next cabinet is in place.

These parties' decision will save Master's students living with their parents 1,147 euros and students who have moved out 3,200 euros next year. That is the amount they would have had to pay if the government had not fallen.
The slow student fine will still go through as the legislation has already come into effect and cannot be reversed. Students who get more than a year behind in their Bachelor's or Master's degree will have to pay extra tuition fees as of September. The fine can be as much as three thousand euros depending on how far they are behind.
MP Sander de Rouwe does not want to talk about the plans of the CDA (Christian party) for the basic grant after the election. 'I have my opinions on the matter but it is now up to the programme commission and the CDA members. We will know what we will be proposing in the election campaign by the end of June. Until then I will not be letting anything through, including the cabinet's current bill scrapping the basic grant for Master's students.'
The PvdA (Labour party), which advocates a system of loans rather than a basic grant, does not want to handle the bill either. 'The cabinet is proposing an anti-social loan system, not a social loan system, with this bill', says MP Tanja Jadnanansing. 'I can't accept a bill where refugee students lose their grant if they can't prove their parents are dead. On top of that, there is no information on what investments will be made with the money saved by this bill.' The PvdA is only prepared to introduce a social loan system if the slow student fine of three thousand euros a year is abolished. 'That would be my bargaining counter in the debate.'
Earlier the SP (Socialist party) and GroenLinks (Green Left) had already said they wanted to declare the bill 'controversial', which would mean it could not be passed now that government has fallen. That would give a parliamentary majority for stopping the bill. Usually even a small minority can stop contentious bills if an election is imminent but that is merely a convention: the Lower House still decides on matters by majority vote.
The MPs in the Lower House were actually supposed to be debating the bill two weeks ago but then the cabinet fell.
There may be a comfortable majority in the Lower House in favour of a loan system for student funding but the parties have still not reached agreement on the details of the implementation. There is also the possibility that the CDA will do a U-turn and decide to oppose the abolition of the basic grant, as it did in the past.