Bill reintroducing basic grant sent to House of Representatives
News item | 24-10-2022 | 13:58
Today, education minister Robert Dijkgraaf submitted draft legislation to the House of Representatives to reintroduce the basic grant for all students in higher education. This will significantly improve their financial situation from the 2023/2024 academic year. In addition, the conditions for repayment of student loans for MBO graduates will be brought in line with those for higher education. This will underscore the equal status of the different forms of post-secondary education.
‘By reintroducing the basic grant I want to give young people a solid start and good prospects. Besides the fixed monthly grant, more students in higher education will be eligible for a supplementary grant,’ Mr Dijkgraaf explained. ‘This takes account of the financial position of parents in middle-income groups. The bill also aims to level up the position of MBO students in relation to their peers in higher education, by setting identical repayment conditions for all students starting in September 2023. This means MBO graduates will also have a 35-year student loan repayment period and the interest rate on their loan will be the same as for higher education student loans.’
Basic grant and cost-of-living payment
If parliament approves the bill, the basic grant in higher education will not only apply to new students in the 2023/2024 academic year, but to all registered students who are still eligible for student finance. Higher-education students living away from home will then receive €274.90 per month, compared with €110.30 for students living at home. In addition, over the 2023/2024 academic year, all students living away from home (including MBO) will get approximately €165 per month to cope with the steep increase in the cost of living, especially for energy and groceries. This means a student living away from home will receive a total of almost € 440 per month – €5,280 for the full 2023/2024 academic year.
The government is earmarking €1 billion annually for the reintroduction of the basic grant. The €500 million needed to restore students’ buying power is incidental expenditure.
The basic grant is one source of income for students, but it is not the only one. Besides job earnings, the parental contribution and the student loan, some students are eligible for a means-tested supplementary grant, depending on their parents’ income. The current bill proposes a maximum supplementary grant of €416 per month, which is €100 more than in the old student finance system. To be eligible for the supplementary grant, parents’ income should not exceed €70,000 for students in higher education. This will result in more students being eligible for the supplementary grant.
Mr Dijkgraaf also wants more students who are eligible for the supplementary grant to actually apply for it. He hopes to achieve this by adapting the grant application process via the Education Executive Agency (DUO).
Identical repayment conditions
Giving equal status to MBO, HBO and university students also means setting equal conditions for repaying student loans. Currently MBO graduates must repay their student loan in 15 years, compared to 35 years for those who were in higher education. The interest is also calculated differently for the two groups. As of the 2023/2024 course year, new MBO students who take out a student loan will get the same repayment conditions as students in higher education. Students already registered in MBO courses – for instance, beginning their second year of study – can choose between the old and new system. Students who do not make a choice will automatically fall under the new loan repayment rules.
Although compensation payments are unusual when policy is changed, the government wants to make a supportive gesture towards people who completed one or more years of study under the loan system. To this end it has reserved an incidental budget of €1 billion. Based on a nominal 4-year course, this works out to roughly €1,400 per student. In addition, this group will receive study vouchers. This means that some 375,000 students will get an extra €1,835 either to help repay their loan, or as a compensatory payment if they already repaid or have no student loan.
The government held an internet consultation to invite feedback about the new student finance plans. Since the beginning of 2022, Mr Dijkgraaf has been talking with students around the country in ‘Speak up’ sessions. Topics include the basic grant, but also issues like wellbeing and housing. Reintroducing the basic grant is unlikely to solve all the issues the younger generation is facing.
Parliament is expected to debate the bill proposing reintroduction of the basic grant at the beginning of 2023. Once both houses of parliament have approved the bill, DUO will inform all students on how to apply for the basic grant. The likely starting date for grant applications is summer 2023.
Introduction of basic grant for all students in higher education
News item | 25-03-2022 | 14:15
The government wants to reintroduce the basic grant for all higher education students from the 2023/2024 course year, including students who are already registered on a course. In a letter to the House of Representatives, the government has outlined its dilemmas, deliberations and decisions to reintroduce the basic grant for recipients of student finance under the present system. Education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf will explain the plans to the House of Representatives in a separate session.
Reintroduction of the basic grant
The government wants to reintroduce the basic grant for all higher education students from the beginning of the 2023/2024 academic year. Current first-year students will also be eligible for the basic grant from that year, providing they meet the criteria.
As with the ‘old’ basic grant, the proposal is to introduce a performance-related grant, the amount of which would depend on whether a student lives at home or away from home. In its letter to parliament the government presents several options. In the preferred scenario, students living away from home would receive €255 per month, compared with €91 per month for students living at home. The grant is provisionally issued as a loan, which is converted into a gift (forgiven) for students who obtain their qualification within the official 10-year period.
The government also wants to fund various supplementary measures from the budget available for the basic grant. To reduce inequality of opportunity in education, it will encourage MBO and higher education students who are eligible for the supplementary grant to actually apply for it. The income ceiling will be scrapped for MBO students who wish to receive the basic grant, nor will an income ceiling apply to higher education students once the basic grant is reintroduced for them. Having a part-time job or small business gives a young person work experience, contributes to their personal development and can help prevent them getting into debt. Finally, under the government’s preferred scenario the loan repayment rules for MBO graduates will be relaxed.
The government recognises that reintroducing the basic grant is unfair to the generation who studied in the interim period during which there was no basic grant for students in higher education. Although compensation payments are unusual when policy is changed, the government wants to make a supportive gesture towards people who completed one or more years of study under the loan system. The letter to the House of Representatives presents a number of dilemmas inherent in the government’s plans, all of which relate to the compensatory €1 billion pledged in the coalition agreement. For instance, should all former students be eligible for compensation, or only those with a student loan?
The government is currently inclined towards supporting all graduates who studied during the period when the loan system was in place – even if they did not actually apply for student finance at the time. Based on a nominal study period of 4 years, this would work out to roughly €1,400. Students who start their course in the 2022/2023 year will fall under the loan system for one more year and will receive a one-off compensatory payment of €359.
Introducing the basic grant is a key priority for the Education Executive Agency (DUO). This is a major technical undertaking for which there is little time available. Only after their systems are adapted to pay the basic grant can DUO start making arrangements for the compensatory payments. Despite its best efforts, DUO expects that it will not be able to make compensatory payments or adjustments to outstanding loans before 2025.
Extra money via study vouchers
On top of this, the government is proposing to use the existing study vouchers more flexibly. This means the voucher, which has a value of around €1,770, will be deducted from the outstanding loans of some 374,000 graduates. If the loan has already been fully repaid, the amount of the voucher will be paid out. People who studied in the first four years of the loan system received the voucher on obtaining their degree, as compensation for being unable to benefit from the quality improvements in higher education. Until now, the voucher could only be spent on further studies.
Example: someone who got their degree in four years and was enrolled from 2015/2016 to 2018/2019 will receive €3,206: the compensatory payment of €1,436 (preferred scenario) plus a study voucher of roughly €1,770.
Dialogue with students and the House of Representatives
Besides the plans above, the government is engaging in dialogue with young people about the broader concerns of their generation, such as finding a place to live and coping with pressure to perform. Since the beginning of 2022, Mr Dijkgraaf has been talking with students around the country in ‘Speak up’ sessions. Topics include the basic grant, but also issues like wellbeing and housing. Reintroducing the basic grant is unlikely to solve all the issues the younger generation is facing.
On 4 April Mr Dijkgraaf will address the House of Representatives about his proposal and the dilemmas identified in his letter. Shortly afterwards, the internet consultation will begin and anyone who wishes can respond to the proposal. After that, the plans will be submitted as a bill to the House of Representatives.
Financial compensation for students to be extended
News item | 21-01-2021 | 17:05
The temporary scheme compensating students in secondary vocational and higher education (MBO, HBO and WO) who are disadvantaged by the coronavirus measures will be extended until the end of August 2021. Students whose studies are delayed due to the measures and who graduate between February 2021 and the end of August 2021 will receive a one-off contribution towards their study costs. All students whose entitlement to a basic grant and/or a supplementary grant ends between October 2020 and the end of August 2021 will also receive a financial contribution. In addition, the enrolment deadline for secondary vocational education (MBO) courses has been extended by one month to 1 May 2021.
The extension package is expected to cost a total of €135 million and comes out of the €200 million already reserved for compensation to students.
Contribution towards study costs Secondary vocational schools, institutions of higher professional education (HBO institutions) and universities are making every effort to enable all final-year students to get their qualifications as planned, despite the coronavirus measures. Unfortunately, this will not be possible for everyone due to the limitations of online learning and the cancellation of many work placements. Accordingly, the temporary scheme for financial compensation to students in secondary vocational and higher education which was due to end on 31 January will now be extended until 31 August 2021. Students who get their qualification before 31 August will receive a one-off contribution towards their study costs. The amount varies for the different types of education: €150 for students in block or day-release (BBL) courses, €300 for students in school-based vocational training (BOL) and €535 for students in higher education.
Supplementary grant Under the extended scheme, one-off contributions will be paid to students whose right to the basic grant (MBO-BOL) and/or the supplementary grant expires between 1 October 2020 and the end of August 2021 (the scheme’s previous deadline was 30 September 2020). Students in school-based vocational training (BOL) receiving a basic grant will get €800. Those receiving the basic grant and a supplementary grant will get a one-off payment of €2,000. Higher education students receiving the supplementary grant will get a one-off payment of €1,500.
Enrolment deadline for secondary vocational education (MBO) extended by one month Students who wish to do a course in secondary vocational education (MBO) must enrol no later than 1 May 2021. The enrolment deadline has been extended by a month, as most of this orientation now has to take place online and future students need to have enough time to explore the options and make a sound choice. The deadline of 1 May already applies to young people enrolling in higher education (HBO institutions and universities).
Reintroduction of lottery-based course admissions
News item | 11-12-2020 | 15:00
In order to combat inequality of opportunity and ensure courses are broadly accessible, higher education institutions (HBO institutions and universities) may draw lots to select students for courses where a quota (numerus fixus) applies. Drawing lots will be one of the instruments that educational institutions are permitted to use. The reintroduction of this instrument will require an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Act. The cabinet has approved education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven’s proposal to this end.
Inequality of opportunity Since 2013, students applying for courses with a limited number of places have been selected by the educational institution based on at least two qualitative criteria, such as their marks and an interview about their motivation. The Inspectorate of Education found that the group of students enrolled in these courses is less diverse than those in other courses. This suggests that courses with student quotas may be less accessible to some groups. Lottery-based admission is one way to tackle this problem.
Tailored approach Several educational institutions have indicated a preference for a more tailored approach in their selection procedures. This is why the proposed amendment would introduce drawing lots as a permitted form of selection for all associate degree programmes and bachelor’s degree programmes with a quota.
Institutions can opt to use drawing lots as the only selection instrument or in addition to their current selection procedure based on at least two qualitative criteria.
In a weighted draw, the results of the qualitative selection criteria count towards the candidate’s chance of winning a place. Additionally, an institution may opt to admit a certain number of applicants based on the selection criteria and then allocate the remaining places by drawing lots. This approach also helps reduce the inequality of opportunity.
The cabinet has agreed to submit the bill to the Council of State for its advisory opinion. The text of the bill and the advisory opinion will be published when the bill is sent to the House of Representatives.
Education ministry earmarks €1.4 million for innovative online higher education
News item | 28-05-2020 | 11:00
Today the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and SURF, the collaborative IT organisation for education and research in the Netherlands, jointly opened the latest round of the Open and Online Higher Education grant scheme. This multiannual scheme provides grants of up to €175,000 each to innovative and experimental online projects in higher education. Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven has made €1.4 million available for this round.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science wants to encourage institutions of higher professional education (HBO institutions) and universities to boost the quality of education and to share, reuse and improve high-quality collections of open learning materials. The Open and Online Higher Education grant scheme was introduced in 2015, and grant rounds are held annually. The ministry runs the scheme jointly with SURF.
Surge in demand Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven: ‘This existing scheme was already fulfilling the sector’s need for funding for this type of activity. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in demand for online education, and I expect that higher education institutions will want to push for more innovation and greater collaboration on online learning materials. Through this scheme I’m encouraging teachers and other education professionals to take their online higher education projects to a higher level, and to make this form of teaching even more attractive and challenging for students.’
Virtual reality One of the earliest online education projects to benefit from the scheme is ‘PleitVRij’, a programme for law students. It uses virtual reality to pit students against each other in a virtual courtroom in order to practise the various skills needed in legal proceedings. They also receive peer feedback in real time. A prime example of open learning materials can be found in the project ‘Samen HBO Verpleegkunde’ (‘Teaming up for nursing education’) in which five HBO institutions have jointly set up a platform for teachers and students to develop, share, assess and reuse learning materials. To date, 17 institutions have joined this learning community.
Applications The new round for applications under the Open and Online Higher Education grant scheme starts today. On Wednesday 17 June there will be an informative online meeting for education professionals, where SURF and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will explain how the scheme works. The meeting is open to all interested parties. More information can be found on the SURF website.
An extra €500 million for students and summer schools
News item | 15-05-2020 | 15:30
The government is earmarking almost €500 million in extra funding for education. Some €200 million will go to students in higher education to help cushion the impact of the coronavirus measures on them. An additional €244 million will be invested in primary, secondary and secondary vocational education to address learning loss caused by the crisis.
Tuition fee compensation for students Students in secondary vocational and higher education who need to re-register for the coming academic year in order to get their qualification between September 2020 and the end of January 2021 will receive a one-off contribution towards their tuition fees. In addition, every student whose right to a basic or supplementary grant expires in July, August or September 2020 will also be entitled to compensation under this scheme.
Study delay In response to the coronavirus measures, secondary vocational and higher education institutions have had to switch to online teaching as far as possible. Although every effort is made to prevent study delay, this will inevitably affect work placements, clinical placements and practical lessons. Students in their final year cannot put off doing parts of their course until next year. Accordingly, all students who need to re-register for the coming academic year in order to get their qualification between September 2020 and the end of January 2021 will receive compensation roughly equal to three months of fees for their education and/or training programmes. The amounts are as follows: €150 per student in block or day-release vocational training (BBL), €300 per student in school-based vocational training (BOL) and €535 per student in higher education.
Supplementary grant The government is also introducing a measure specifically for students whose right to a basic grant (for school-based vocational training (BOL)) and/or a supplementary grant is due to expire in July, August or September 2020. These students will receive a one-off payment, as follows: €800 per BOL student with a basic grant, €2,000 per BOL student with a basic and a supplementary grant and €1,500 per higher education student with a supplementary grant.
Learning loss due to COVID-19 Primary, secondary and secondary vocational schools will receive €244 million to provide tailored assistance for pupils and students who have suffered learning losses caused by the coronavirus measures. In the 2020/2021 school year, early childhood education providers and schools will be able to use the money to offer catch-up programmes alongside their regular educational activities. The extra activities may be outsourced, as is common practice with summer schools.
Apprenticeships It is vital to have sufficient work placements and apprenticeships for secondary vocational education students, both during and after the coronavirus crisis. To this end, businesses that offer apprenticeships and workplace training opportunities will be able to apply for their grant to be paid in advance under a new incentive scheme. The government has also increased the size of grants for apprenticeships at businesses in vulnerable sectors, such as contact-based occupations and sectors that are sensitive to economic fluctuations. Finally the government is making an extra €30 million available as a general incentive for as many businesses as possible to offer work placements and apprenticeships for vocational education students.
Newcomers to the Netherlands The current situation brings additional challenges for newcomers entering the Dutch education system, many of whom are not fluent in Dutch. Online learning has been found to be less effective for these learners, compared to learners who are proficient in Dutch. The government is earmarking an extra €21 million to tackle this type of educational disadvantage.
Cap on institutional tuition fees will make higher education more accessible
News item | 06-03-2020 | 15:45
The cabinet has approved the Language of Instruction and Accessibility (Higher Education) Bill proposed by education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven, which will cap institutional tuition fees for Dutch students and students from the European Economic Area (EEA). This will also make it easier for graduates to do a second degree.
At the same time, the government will set a minimum tuition fee for students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to prevent large numbers of international students taking advantage of heavily public-funded courses intended to benefit Dutch students. Under the new measures, the maximum tuition fee for Dutch and EEA students will be the same as the minimum fee for non-EEA students.
Statutory tuition fee for first degree programme
Dutch and EEA students doing their first bachelor’s or master’s degree only pay the statutory tuition fee. Some categories of student instead pay the institutional tuition fee set by the institution where they are studying.
Institutional tuition fees Institutional tuition fees are set by universities or higher professional education (HBO) institutions themselves and apply to all non-EEA students and to graduates doing a second bachelor’s or master’s degree after they have completed their first degree programme. Institutional tuition fees may not be lower than the statutory tuition fee.
Under the bill, the government will set a cap on the institutional tuition fee for Dutch and EEA students. The Language of Instruction and Accessibility (Higher Education) Bill has been passed by the House of Representatives. The bill’s associated regulations are being elaborated pending the Senate’s debate on the bill.