Bill to bring more balance to internationalization in higher education
The purpose of the Balanced Internationalization Act is to ensure a balance between the advantages and disadvantages of internationalization in higher education. The consultation on this bill closes in September. The law will subsequently be submitted to the Council of State. The amended proposal can then be submitted to the House of Representatives - expectedly after the elections of November 22.
The proposal contains measures in the field of language and management of the admission of students. Direction is necessary to better manage the number of international students coming to the Netherlands. In recent years, the number of international students has increased sharply to around 115,000. In scientific education, 40% of new students now come from outside the Netherlands. Unchecked, this puts pressure on the quality of education and an increase of workload for teachers. In addition it is increasingly difficult for students to find a room.
These trends undermine the experience that education and student life should provide. There is a need for a strategic reconsideration of internationalization and the exchange of talent. This bill aims to achieve a sustainable balance in the higher education system. A balance between utilizing the great added value of internationalization on the one hand and maintaining quality, accessibility and efficiency on the other.
The bill contains measures to promote language skills in Dutch for both Dutch and international students. Institutions retain freedom over how they want to promote students' language skills, but it must be well anchored at the basic level (bachelor's and post-graduate courses), in the curriculum itself. All students who follow a foreign-language course are required to make an effort to improve their Dutch language skills. The bill also provides for a maximum number of places for students from outside Europe if educational capacity proves to be limited. This guarantees access for Dutch and European students. Programs that are suddenly confronted with high enrollments may decide to apply an 'emergency brake' if the quality of education is compromised.
Apart from these legal measures, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science wants to make administrative agreements with universities and colleges in the near future. Agreements until the legislation comes into effect.on more targeted recruitment, more active guidance of international students into the Dutch labor market and good information about housing.
Extra investment of € 200 million per year in education and research
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science announced that it will increase the structural investment in higher education and research by EUR 200 million per year. Through ‘sector plans’, universities and university medical centres (UMCs) have made agreements on how they will divide the new resources.This new financial impulse will support institutions and sectors in specializing, providing researchers permanent jobs and increase the quality of their education provision.
To date, young researchers predominantly were employed through temporary contracts.The precarious nature of their position leads to uncertainty, short-term research and inequality within departments. The additional investment is expected to create at least 1,200 extra permanent jobs within universities.
An important aim of the sector plans is to promote cooperation between the institutions, the cohesion between education and research and to create focus. Although there is already a lot of cooperation between institutions in the Netherlands, there is still room for improvement.
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.
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).