News - June 13, 2012

Tuition fee waived if students serve on a committee, but will there be any takers?

The Lower House of the Dutch Parliament has just approved a law which exempts fulltime student executives from paying tuition fees. But applied sciences universities and universities still have a free hand.

Members of parliament Anne-Wil Lucas of the VVD and Boris van der Ham of D66 succeeded finally to get a proposal through the Lower House which exempts students who help run a student society from having to pay tuition fees. Full-time student executives may soon be allowed to be taken off from the register list of their applied sciences university or university if they do board work for a year.
Besides not having to pay tuition fees, another advantage of this is that students have less risk of getting a study delay fine. Since they remain connected to their institution through a contract, they would be eligible for a management scholarship from the 'profilerings' fund of their institution and do not have to give up their student accommodation.
One wonders if student executives will be better off with this ruling. Without an official student status, they will not be eligible for a public transport student pass and they cannot borrow from the DUO student fund agency. Moreover, no binding agreement has been reached concerning the amount in the management scholarships.
In addition, applied sciences universities and universities do not necessarily have to implement the ruling to waive tuition fees for students who do board work; the law allows institutions to make this decision themselves. The universities in Tilburg and Utrecht have already indicated that they will not implement this ruling.
Demissionary state secretary Zijlstra stressed again last week that he is not in favour of the ruling. He therefore advised against the amendment submitted by Lucas and Van der Ham last week during the passing of the bill to reduce public transport travel privileges for students.
Zijlstra does not think that it is necessary to make an exception for student executives concerning the slow student fine. In any case, they can make use of a buffer year for their committee work. Moreover, such work is often not a full-time activity, adds Zijlstra. He feels that it is ridiculous to give someone access to student facilities when he is not on the student register list and is in fact no longer a student.
Despite all these, Dutch student societies are pleased. 'The tuition fee waiver for students doing board work will make it possible for them to serve the society or university for a year,' says Jan Boers, chairman of the LKvV (Dutch chamber of societies). 'Luckily for board members, they no longer have to pay for education which they do not get.'