If the law on quality funding is not dealt with quickly

Higher education and students in debt risk missing out on millions

niet mijn schuld, demonstratie Foto: Shutterstock
Photo: DUB's archive

When the basic benefit for students was abolished in 2015, this freed up to 659 million euros a year in additional funding for higher education institutions, which could be used to improve the quality of education. The Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) assessed whether their plans met the bar. But now that the benefit has been reinstated, outgoing Minister of Education Robbert Dijkgraaf wants funds to go directly to the institutions, as before. 

140 million for "unlucky" students
His legislative amendment is still awaiting approval by the House of Representatives and Senate. In the same go, his bill would also increase compensation for the generation of students who missed out on the basic grant, adjusting it for inflation in 2023 and 2024. This would amount to an additional 140 million euros. 

At the end of 2023, the Parliament declared the bill "controversial", which means it would wait until a new cabinet took office. VVD, a party that favours stricter requirements for higher education funding, was not ready to abolish quality-based funding just yet. However, after an earlier appeal by Minister Dijkgraaf and a motion by the D66 party, a majority reconsidered the decision. But there has been little progress since. 

Dijkgraaf is thus reiterating that the bill must be discussed in the House and Senate before July 1. If they fail to do so, a whole new round of quality-based planning will be needed before schools receive any money. Dijkgraaf: “A new round would significantly increase the regulatory burden on all higher education institutions. The new plans would have to be drawn up and then assessed by the NVAO within an all but impossible timeframe.”

Shrinking regions
Should the legislation be passed in time, the funds will be paid directly to institutions on January 1, 2025. “This increase in the fixed base is particularly important for higher education institutions in regions where populations are shrinking, by ensuring more stable funding despite declining student enrolments”, the minister said.

Students who missed out on the basic grant will also benefit. Those who were enrolled under the loan system for four years (and who graduate within ten) will receive an additional 200 euros, raising the sum from 1,436 to 1,640 euros.

MP Jan Paternotte (D66) reported that the bill is slated for House discussion “soon”.