Students to protest over compensation for student loan system, government holds firm

Demonstration against the student loan system held in 2018. Photo: Sabina van Gils

The coalition agreement made by political parties VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie states that the basic student grants are to be reintroduced, and the students who had to make use of the student loan system in place since 2015 will get some compensation. One billion euros has been reserved for this purposed.

However, a significant number of opposition parties asked for more information about these plans by submitting questions to the new minister of education. exactly how much will those students get? Will it be the equivalent of around 1,500 euros per person?

The government is keeping its cards close to its chest. “The amount of compensation a student can receive depends on the size of the target group and how the scheme is set up”, was the answer.

In other words, it depends on political choices. Compensation sounds easier than it actually is. For instance, should the government only compensate the students in debt or should students without a debt, who have lived frugally or have worked a lot to pay their debt back, be equally compensated?

But the main thing is that the total amount earmarked for this is one billion euros. As the government writes, “the more students that are eligible for compensation, the lower the amount per student will be.”

But wait, shouldn't the government first decide what is fair and then define the most appropriate amount? It looks like they are doing things the other way round: first they have decided the amount, and now they will determine how to distribute it fairly.

The Dutch Student Union and the union FNV Young & United have already announced a protest. They are going to demonstrate against the low compensation in Amsterdam on February 5.

They are supported by several political parties, youth wings of political parties and local student unions. It turns out that the Dutch National Students' Association supports the protest too, although it is not yet on the list.

The opposition parties also asked questions about how much the new basic student grant is going to be. But the government has not answered that question yet.