Student organisations displeased

No long-term energy support for students through basic student grant

Photo: Pixabay

What is a basic student grant?
A monthly loan from DUO, the Education Executive Agency, which is waived if you obtain your degree on time. 

How much will students receive per month?
The basic grant amounts to 110.30 euros a month for students who live in the Netherlands with their parents. For those who have moved out, the grant amounts to 274.90 euros a month, plus a supplement of 164.30 euros to compensate for inflation.

So, the supplement of 164.30 euros a month will be taken away after a year?
Yes, according to the 2023 Spring Memorandum. The political parties CDA and D66 originally supported a plan to extend the financial support by a further three years, albeit at a slightly reduced amount. They reasoned that the supplementary amount could be paid for with the money that will be saved when tuition fees for first-year and second-year students in teacher training programmes will no longer be halved (a measure announced during Covid) in September 2024.

But wasn’t that money supposed to support students?
Not entirely. It is true that the Dutch Minister of Education, Robbert Dijkgraaf, had previously pledged that all the money that would be taken away from students would "flow back to students”. However, the government and the coalition parties have earmarked the money for a variety of purposes. Part of the money will go towards funding secondary vocational education and another part was allocated for knowledge security in higher education and research.

It is correct that a sizeable portion was intended to go to students living away from home to assist them with increased energy costs. A clear majority in the House of Representatives appeared to be in favour of this idea. But the government was never keen, which is why the coalition parties eventually decided against tabling their motion to that effect.

So, there is nothing left to do?
The plans are unlikely to go ahead now, although the House of Representatives can, in principle, call the government to account. They could do it if the coalition parties were yet to table their motion, for instance. Even the Senate, where the government does not have a majority, could still be difficult, provided that the senators consider the issue important enough.

What do students think about all this?
They are not happy, obviously. The Dutch Student Union (LSVb) argues that the government is breaking a “direct pledge” made to students. “It is one thing to make cuts when there are unexpected setbacks but to then start cutting back on students is incomprehensible,” says union chair Joram van Velzen. “The House of Representatives really needs to hit the emergency brake.”