This coming year he’ll be working hard to promote the interests of Dutch students and stave off the student loan system. In early May, Aart Claassens, a newly graduated Wageningen biologist, was elected to the board of the Interstedelijk Studentenoverleg (ISO), the national student organization.
Photo from left on: Sanne de Jager, Yvonne Rouwhorst, Falco Carelsz, Aart Claassens en Rosanne Broekhuizen.
You’ve already spent a year with VeSte. Now you’ve graduated why are you choosing to do a second board year?
‘This gives me the chance to spend another year working for the good of education. This time at a national level and with even more themes. So it’s a step up. I think of it as my first job. It’s hard work, more than 40 hours a week, but the subject matter is interesting, so I’m looking forward to it.’
We know of the National Student Union (LSVb) mainly thanks to its campaigns against cuts and slum landlords. ISO has always been involved with student councils and unions. How is your approach different?
‘ISO talks to the people with responsibility for the plans that affect education, such as MPs and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). We try to persuade them to share our vision. Working in this way we managed to get the slow student fine abolished. We also raise matters of wrongdoing. Some students, for example, were having to pay extra costs in addition to statutory tuition fees, while that’s not allowed.’
What will be the controversial issues in your board year?
‘The most important theme is the student loan system (sociale leenstelsel), the plan to convert the entire grant to a loan. Will a system like this get the go-ahead and what will it involve? These are important decisions and we are keen to join the discussion on them.’