Bachelor’s students will still get a grant under Mark Rutte’s new conservative Dutch government. But Wageningen student organizations deplore the proposed loan system for Master’s students and fear that active students are going to be penalized.
The blow will hit Wageningen students double hard because all the Master's programmes at Wageningen University - even those in the social sciences - are spread over two years. That means borrowing money for two years, while students at other universities are done in one year. It is not yet clear whether there will be any compensation for Wageningen students on this point.
Although the plans are still vague, the future does not look rosy to the Wageningen Students' Organization (WSO). 'We don't think you can justify making a student's decision whether to go on to further studies depend on financing. Education should be accessible to everyone', responds WSO chair Karmijn van den Berg.
Exempt active students
The new government is also going to discourage taking a long time over a degree. People who extend for more than a year will have to pay 3,000 euros extra in tuition fees and will not be eligible for a free public transport card. This could have consequence for extra-curricular activities such as helping to run student societies. It's OK for lazy students to have to pay more, says Progressive Student Party (PSF) chair Ewoud Nijhof, but 'active students should be exempted.' Martijn Kuller from VeSte, the third party on the Student Council, seconds that view. 'If no exception is made for active students, it will be pretty hypocritical.' After all, the new cabinet says it wants students to be better prepared for the world of work. These sorts of organizational activities are a way of doing that.
VeSte also predicts problems with the implementation of the plans. Kuller: 'Students have embarked on a Master's on the assumption that they are getting a grant, and now it is suddenly taken away. The same goes for students who are suddenly going to have to pay for their second study programme.'
The organizations all agree that the pressure to achieve is growing. Nevertheless, a survey by the National Students' Union shows that most students will still opt to do a Master's./Suzanne Overbeek, Simone Herrewijn