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DUO too strict with European students

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Having lost a few court cases, the Education Executive Agency (Dutch acronym: DUO) is having to change its course with regard to European students. They are now more likely to be granted student financing. The Dutch government is studying the consequences.

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Students from the European Union need to have a job (part-time or full-time) to be entitled to student financing in another EU country. If they have a job, then they come under the rules governing ‘migrating workers’, which means they have the same rights as the other residents of the country where they are residing.

The norm imposed by the Dutch government and by DUO is that students have to work at least 56 hours a month to qualify for student financing. However, public broadcaster NOS reports that this norm has now been judged too strict as it is not in accordance with European law.

Policy of deterrence
Several European students who worked fewer hours started litigation last year and the courts decided in their favour. Their lawyers estimate that 32 to 40 hours of paid work is enough for them to qualify for student financing. Their view is that DUO is pursuing a “policy of deterrence”.

In an interview with NOS, DUO denies that this is their intention but promises to give students better information and show more flexibility. Those who do not meet the 56-hour threshold will no longer be automatically rejected, which makes it easier for students from EU member states to get student financing in the Netherlands. This is especially important now that the basic student grant is being reintroduced.

Consequences
MP Habtuma de Hoop (PvdA) says this is good news for international students but does not want the extra expense to be detrimental to student financing for Dutch students. He has asked Minister of Education Robbert Dijkgraaf to “analyse the potential for unwelcome costs and consequences”.

A spokesperson confirms that the ministry is currently exploring a “possible reduction” in the 56-hour norm and the advantages and disadvantages thereof. The exploratory survey is expected to be completed at the end of the year.

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