News - August 18, 2012

'Impossible to revoke slow student fine quickly'

It will not be possible to revoke the slow student fine before 1 September. State Secretary Zijlstra says the Dutch Lower and Upper Houses are unable to amend the law so quickly.

The revocation will also incur huge costs for the universities and applied sciences universities, Zijlstra informs the Lower House in a letter. He has been asked on Thursday to 'put aside' the slow student fine from 1 September until the new cabinet has been formed. The Lower House also asked him to provide proposals on how to cover the resulting budget deficits.
Thrown out
The request was made after an election debate in Utrecht on Tuesday during which CDA party leader Van Haersma Buma made a surprise statement that in his view, the fine which was proposed and supported up to then by his party may be thrown out immediately. But unlike the PvdA, D66, Green Left and the VVD (which was absent at the debate), he is against the - more costly for students - removal of the basic student grant.
In his response to the CDA standpoint, State Secretary Zijlstra says that the issue smacks of election rhetorics. In his letter to the Lower House, he reiterated the fact that the slow student measures come under the law which cannot be changed just like that. The lowering of the fine to nought - which happened a year ago under pressure from the SGP - is not even possible at all because the amount of tuition fees (and the fine) has been incorporated into the law in totality when it is implemented.
To retract the fine completely would incur costs of 370 million euros a year, says Zijlstra. If only the tuition fees ruling were to be revoked, the universities and applied sciences universities would have to pay 140 million euros each year. Zijlstra does not see any possibility for covering these deficits. The Lower House will bring its meeting forward to next Thursday to discuss the slow student fine. CDA education spokesperson Sander de Rouwe discloses to BNR radio news yesterday afternoon that the parties will together find a suitable solution, so that students who have already paid their tuition fees and fine will not be taken for a ride.