Nieuws - 19 januari 2012

Basic grant for multi-year Master's degrees soon to be abolished

Even students who started a two or three-year Master's degree this academic year will lose their basic grant from next September. Zijlstra, the State Secretary, is abolishing the grant for all Master's students.

Only students who started a research Master's or Master's in science or medicine before 1 September 2011 will be eligible for a transitional scheme. All the others will lose their basic grant, it appears from the proposed legislation entitled 'A Study is an Investment' that State Secretary Zijlstra has just sent to Parliament.

The proposal also says that students who are behind with their studies by more than one year will lose the right to their public transport annual pass and have to pay their own travel expenses.

Zijlstra says it is only logical when the government is making billions of euros in cuts to ask students to contribute more. According to the state secretary, students affected by the measures will be able to take out a loan under favourable terms: 'Low interest rates, repayment according to your means and the possibility of all debts being cancelled after twenty years if you are really unable to pay.'

Zijlstra says simplifying student funding, which includes the abolition of the supplementary grant for students unable to trace their parents, will save on thirty full-time civil servants.

The National Students' Association (ISO) and the National Students' Union (LSVb) are furious at Zijlstra's proposed legislation. 'What's this about Master's students 'investing'? Master's education is not going to improve now that the basic grant is going', they say. Calculations by ISO show that students taking a one-year, two-year or three-year Master's degree can expect an increase in costs of 3,200, 6,400 and 9,600 euros respectively. 'This is the biggest cut in the accessibility of education since the introduction of student funding', says LSVb.

Students will have to pay more from 1 September 'but that won't get them better lecturers or more contact hours', says ISO. 'A study is an investment but this investment seems so far to be more form than substance.' The students also have nothing positive to say about the fact that Master's students will lose their public transport pass rights if they get behind with their studies. That is precisely a period in which students are likely to be doing an internship and so have to travel a lot, say ISO and LSVb.