The introduction of the social loan system is putting off young people from vulnerable groups in particular, according to the ScienceGuide website on the basis of a draft report that is still confidential.
ScienceGuide says the report shows that the biggest falls in higher education intake are among young people from poor families, people whose parents did not go to university and people from ethnic minorities. A drop had already been announced in the number of new students in higher education, especially universities of applied science (HBO), in the first year after the loan system was introduced.
The minister, Jet Bussemaker, said she expected the measure would lead to a ‘temporary dip’. In a letter to the Lower House, she commented briefly on the leaked news, saying that in previous years young people had anticipated the loan system by not taking a gap year after their exams. That led to a temporary bulge in the number of first-years.
But the minister admitted that ‘groups that are vulnerable anyway’ may find things more difficult. People with a disability — from dyslexia to muscular diseases — are slightly less likely to go to university, especially HBO, than in the past. Bussemaker does not want to draw any conclusions yet. The abolition of the basic grant also seems to be having more effect on people from poor families or without highly educated parents: they are less likely to go on to university than in the past. The minister writes that she wants to keep an eye on this.
The introduction of the loan system means that as of 1 September 2015, students no longer receive a basic grant worth about 290 euros per month. There is still a supplementary grant for students whose parents are not well off. The intention is that the annual savings of up to 1 billion euros will mainly be spent on education, for example in the form of 4000 extra lecturers.
The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences calls the drop in the number of students with non-graduate parents ‘worrying’ but says it is too soon to draw conclusions. ‘It will only be possible to talk of a lasting effect if the intake figures for the 2016-2017 academic year suggest this.’ The Association of Universities agrees.