News - November 17, 2010

WSO is fighting the cutbacks

The new Cabinet’s plans would cost Wageningen UR 2.4 million euros, says the Wageningen Student Union (WSO). Today, WSO is protesting against the government’s plans for higher education.

Caption: Karmijn van den Berg handing out certificates
Students at the Forum are handed out free certificates from the Teaching Factory, summarizing the Cabinet's plans: no more grants for Master's students while students who take longer to complete their course have to pay three thousand euros extra in tuition fees. Not everyone in the Forum building seems to understand what the protests are all about. 'There was something in the news about it being too easy to get a degree. Is that what it's for?'
2.4 million
Students who take more than a year longer to complete their studies will have to pay three thousand euros more in tuition fees, regardless of the reason. The university will also have to pay the government back three thousand euros for these students. 'Wageningen UR currently has eight hundred such students, which would mean the uni having to pay back 2.4 million euros', says WSO chairman Karmijn van den Berg. 'This will inevitably lead to the University putting more pressure on students to graduate quickly. It's all about quantity rather than quality.'
'We are standing here to explain to students what's going to happen and invite them for a debate tomorrow evening', says Van den Berg. Depending on the reactions from the students, the WSO will be setting up campaigns in conjunction with unions in other cities. The national petition 'nominal at a minimum'  had collected 65 thousand signatures within a week. Van den Berg: 'That is because the plans have now become specific. The position of today's students is under threat. Even the current second years will not be getting any grants for their Master's.'
Rich parents
Sanne Vercauteren, a 3 rd year Tropical Agriculture student at VHL, is also worried. 'It is the knowledge economy that keeps the Netherlands going; we don't have any cheap raw materials or labour. So you shouldn't be creating obstacles that stop people from completing their degree.' Sanne sees student debt as a risk. 'It is not so much of a problem for people with rich parents. If I want to do a Master's I will have to pay for all of it myself. And I have a kid brother and sister as well who also want to go to university.'

The Teaching Factory at the entrance to the Forum
What does it cost?
The Master's degree programmes at Wageningen University are two years. How much do you have to borrow?
The basic grant of roughly 265 euros a month will be abolished.
A two year Master's assuming the basic grant costs 6,360 euros. If a student with a basic grant takes a year longer, it will cost 6,180 euros.
If your parents' income is low enough you get a supplementary grant of 285 euros a month. That too is due to be abolished.
A two year Master's assuming the supplementary grant costs 13,200 euros.
If this student takes a year longer, it will cost 9,600 euros.