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Breaking news: first-year tuition fees to be lowered to 542 euros

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First-year students will pay only 542 euros in tuition fees for the next academic year: a quarter of the standard rate. This decision by the Ministry of Education represents almost 100 million euros.

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The government is keen to compensate students during the coronavirus crisis, which is why it is cutting tuition fees in half for the next academic year. For most students, this means that, instead of paying 2,168 euros, their studies for that year will cost just 1,084 euros.

Initially, first-year students were not included in this scheme, as they would only have paid half the usual rate anyway. The scheme is also intended to compensate for delayed studies, which would not have affected first-years.

However, a new Q&A published (in Dutch) by the ministry tells a different story. Next year – and only for that year – the statutory tuition fees will be reduced to 1,084 euros. As first-years already pay half the statutory rate, they will pay just 542 euros.

“I didn’t know”
“Oh, I didn’t know that”, said Lyle Muns, Chairperson of the Dutch Student Union (LSVb), who welcomed the decision. “The ministry had given me a different message, but this is good news. Those first-year students still have a lot of time ahead of them to increase their student loans, so this will be of great help. Not to mention the coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on them, too.”

A spokesperson for the ministry stressed that this is not a new decision, but rather an expression of the existing desire to halve students’ tuition fees for the coming year.

There had indeed been an earlier review of whether first-year students (who pay half price since 2018) could be excluded from the scheme, but that would have been difficult in practice. The ministry also believes that it is fair to include first-years in the discount.

A hundred million euros
This decision will be worth between 85 million and 100 million euros, depending on how many first-year students there are. Last year, 65,000 first-year students began their studies at university and 119,000 started at universities of applied sciences, but those numbers were unusually high.

It is not only first-years who will pay half of the already-halved rate: the same applies to second-year students in teacher training programmes, who will also pay just 542 euros for the coming academic year.

Pre-Master’s students starting a bridging programme between their Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes will also be better off, as they will pay no more than the statutory rate of 1,084 euros. Their fees may even be lower, at the discretion of their institute of higher education.

The reduction in tuition fees is a one-off scheme: students will only be eligible to pay this low rate for the 2021/2022 academic year.

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