Nieuws - 27 juni 2013

Loans and public transport next year?

The coalition agreement of October 2012 was clear: the public transport student card will become a discount card and the student grant will be replaced by a loan system.

The minister, Jet Bussemaker, now has the task of implementing this policy. But that turns out to be not so simple. What's the current situation regarding these dossiers?
Loan system
>> Plan: The basic student grant will be scrapped and replaced by a loan system for Master's and Bachelor's students. The cost of studying will go up by 3200 euros a year, which students have to repay afterwards. The supplementary grant will continue to be a gift.
>> Criticism: The national student union is worried that more people may decide not to go to university if it costs so much, or spend more time on part-time jobs, which would adversely affect their studies.
>> Status: The minister has amended her plans by postponing the loan system for Bachelor's students by one year, to 2015; but the system for Master's students will start in 2014. To implement the loan system, Bussemaker is depending on the D66 and the Green Left parties as the coalition government does not actually have a majority in the Upper House. So she needs to keep these two parties happy. Green Left wants the student card to remain, while D66 wants the savings to be channelled back into higher education. To be continued.
Public transport student card
>> Plan: The public transport student card will be scrapped and replaced by a discount card from 2016.
>> Criticism: Travelling by public transport is expensive. Students will opt to study nearer home although this might not be their first choice. More students will want to live in digs even though there is already a shortage of rooms.
>> Status: This plan seems to be the shakier of the two. There are strong rumours that the student card will not be scrapped after all, but the minister is keeping mum. The card could be used as a bargaining tool for the implementation of the loan system. In addition, scrapping the student card would be a huge blow to the NS as so much money is involved. This story, too, is to be continued.