Even though the basic grant has now been abolished, 87 percent of Wageningen first-years still want to move into lodgings: 65 percent of the students starting in September already have a room and 22 percent are looking for one.
These figures come from a survey Resource held among 293 freshers during the AID week. The new social loan system with the ‘study advance’ means these first-years do not get a basic grant. Students living away from home miss out on 286 euros a month while those living at home are 102 euros worse off. The difference could be up to 15 thousand euros for a three-year Bachelor’s degree. Students still get an annual public transport pass and they have the right to a supplementary grant if their parents are on a low income.
However these changes do not seem to be having much of an impact. Almost 30 percent of the students staying at home say that the new loan system affected their choice, but only six percent said that the financial situation was the main reason for not moving away from home. From talking to students, it seems that the new loan system was generally an additional factor in the case of people who were not sure whether to move anyway.
The student accommodation provider Idealis has also seen little change. ‘The total number signed up is bigger than last year,’ says spokesperson Corina van Dijk, ‘and the number of responses is comparable.’ The corporation remains on the look-out for any signs of a fall but so far ‘we really haven’t seen this’. Van Dijk does say that more Wageningen students move than the national average. There are a number of reasons for this, she says. For instance, WU students have a lot of contact hours and it is often difficult to get to the university early using public transport. Wageningen also offers a lot of specialist degrees that attract students from all over the country.
But even students at other universities seem as keen as ever to move into lodgings. Accommodation providers in Nijmegen (SSHN) and Utrecht (SSH) also see no effect from the loan system. That is surprising given the many alarming predictions in the past year. For example the minister, Stef Blok, presented a survey among 6000 students in spring 2014. They were asked whether they would have chosen differently if they had not had a basic grant. Half would have considered living with their parents for longer and 14 percent would even have contemplated never moving into lodgings. Surveys by the family budget institute Nibud and a TV current affairs programme gave similar results.