News - February 10, 2011

Student Council thinks plan for new student support allowance is unfair

The Student Council and the University disagree fundamentally about the distribution of the Student Financial Support Regulation money. The main problem is the fixed monthly allowance the University wants to introduce.

At present, students who are on committees receive a Student Financial Support allowance, which depends on their student grant and therefore on their parents' income.
So students who live at home receive less, for example, than students who have moved out. But the Wageningen UR Executive Board wants to rethink that system. The reason is the time-consuming paperwork involved. That problem is solved if everyone gets the same fixed monthly allowance.
But the students are set dead against this, says Veste spokesperson Luuk Brinkman. They are demanding that the controversial measure be dropped. The main argument against the fixed allowance is that this allocation is unfair. Brinkman says the measure works out badly for students with a supplementary grant. They could well get much less money than in the old system. 'This would restrict the ability of people with a supplementary grant to play an active role in a society. A fair allocation of the money can no longer be guaranteed.'

Reduced allowance
The Student Financial Support budget has been frozen at 550,000 euros for three years. Up to now, a complicated system of rules has been used to divide the money up among the societies and clubs. Key factors are the workload and the number of members. For example, a large student society will get about 144 months of allowance, according to Brinkman. The average monthly allowance is 317 euros.
The Executive Board's new proposal gives a fixed monthly allowance of around 266 euros. On the other hand, there are more months to be allocated to the societies. But Brinkman says this does not mean the end of the unfairness. Besides, the Student Council says the fixed sum contravenes the law. Brinkman: 'Students are not allowed to receive more money from the University than they get in the form of their grant. This means you are excluding students living at home if you have a fixed sum.'

The allocation of the money will certainly be much simpler in the new system. Both the students and the University agree on that. But Brinkman says the fixed allowance is unacceptable. Kropff was told this last Tuesday. The students say digitizing the Student Financial Support applications will solve most of the administrative problems. Kropff has promised to have another look at the fixed allowance and to consider alternatives.