Rattling secondhand old bangers. That’s what you expect to see students driving, if they own a car at all. And yet there are a remarkable number of shiny new cars on the carparks of Idealis complexes. Whose are they? And how do their owners manage it?
Photos Sven Menschel and Remo Wormmeester
Dominque Meijger, Bachelor’s student of Biotechnology
Toyota Prius, year of manufacture 2012
‘My parents travel a lot and are not often in the Netherlands. Because both my grandmothers live far away, my parents wanted someone to be able to get there quickly if there are problems. So my sister and I share a car but because my sister lives in the middle of Utrecht, the Prius is parked here. My parents bought the car and I pay for the insurance, tax and fuel. I like that: because I pay for the fuel myself I think about whether to take the car. I always go to the uni by bike, for instance, whereas I do know other students who just go by car.
At first I had a Toyota Aygo, but then there was a special offer and it didn’t cost much to trade the Aygo in. The Prius is very economical and is in the lowest tax bracket. And my parents like the idea of it, as the Prius is a lot safer.
I really like the car. Because it’s got a spacious boot, my friends often borrow it too. But some people do laugh at me a bit for driving a Prius: its image is that of a respectable Granddad car. But I’ve had two warnings for aggressing driving.’
Nicole Janssen, Just graduated with an MSc in Biology
Nissan Pixo, year of manufacture 2010
‘I come from Limburg and I did my Bachelor’s in Hasselt in Belgium. My parents bought me a car then because I had to drive to the university every day. It just wasn’t doable by public transport. They bought a new Nissan Pixo – new because a car with servicing and a guarantee was a better deal. After my Bachelor’s I started on the Master’s in Biology in Wageningen. We briefly considered selling the car but we didn’t stand to gain much by doing so.
My parents pay the road tax and the insurance and I buy the fuel. I could afford that from my grant, given that I often carpooled so I could share the fuel costs. For all shorter distances I go by bike. Altogether I spent about 50 euros a month on fuel. Now my boyfriend and I have bought the car off my parents.
I am very pleased with the Pixo. It’s very economical and I haven’t had any breakdowns up to now. Only a puncture caused by a nail, and a scratch on the mirror. I was annoyed about that because I look after my car. When I have to park it somewhere I like to park next to an expensive new car. The chances of a dent are smaller if you do that.’
Carianne Zegers, Bachelor’s student of Business and Consumer Science
Ford Fiesta, year of manufacture 2013
‘My parents first bought the Ford Fiesta as a company car. Already back then I often drove it, to go to Wageningen from my home in Elst for instance. I bought it off them when I got a fulltime job during my Bachelor’s. I was working part-time for a recruitment agency but later I was offered a permanent contract as project manager. Great of course, just to roll into a fixed contract from a part-time job. But there wasn’t a car available in the company for a junior employee, even though I needed transport to travel to clients and staff. You can’t get everywhere by public transport and it makes it difficult to plan things efficiently. I’ve almost finished my Bachelor’s now. I’ve just got to hand in one more report and I’ll have all the points I need. I get some funny looks from students because I’ve got a car, but I’ve never had any unfriendly reactions. And it’s often quite useful: when we go out I’m usually the driver and don’t drink.
After six months, I took public transport for the first time to go to a concert in Amsterdam with my sister, and we had a delay of three hours. Then I thought how nice it is always to have a car at your disposal.’