Providing the basic scholarship to all higher education students | news item

news item | 25-03-2022 | 14:15

In the 2023-2024 academic year, the Council of Ministers wants to reintroduce the basic scholarship to all students in higher education, including those already studying. In a letter to the House of Representatives, the Cabinet sets out the dilemmas, considerations, and choices regarding the reintroduction of the base scholarship and allowance to students of the Student Loan Scheme. Education, Culture and Science Minister Dijkgraaf will discuss this proposal with Parliament for further work on the plans.

Resubmit the basic scholarship

The Cabinet wants to reintroduce the Basic Scholarship in Higher Education to all students in the 2023-2024 academic year. Hence, students commencing their studies in the next academic year (2022-2023) will benefit from a base scholarship from the second academic year, if they meet the relevant criteria.

As with the “old” base scholarship, the proposal is to offer a performance scholarship with a distinction between students who live away from home and students who live at home. In the letter, the Treasury identified various alternatives: in the preferred alternative, this relates to 255 euros per month for students who live away from home and 91 euros per month for students who live at home. If the training is completed within the 10-year diploma period, the basic scholarship will be converted from a loan to a gift, just as before.

The Cabinet also wants to fund a number of additional measures from the budget for the basic grant. In order to reduce inequality of opportunity in education, the government wants to ensure that more MBO and tertiary students who are entitled to a supplementary scholarship will also benefit from it. In addition, the proposal is to abolish the additional income limit in MBO. In higher education, the additional income limit that was previously abolished, compared to the “old” basic scholarship, will not be returned. A side job or own business is a good way to gain work experience, contributes to general development and can reduce debt. Finally, in the government’s preferred alternative, the repayment terms in MBO will be relaxed.

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Compensation

The Cabinet acknowledges that reintroducing the basic scholarship is difficult for the generation that studied between the two systems. Although the (financial) contribution in the event of a policy change is unusual, the Cabinet still wanted to take a gesture towards students who studied under the student loan scheme. The letter sent to the House of Representatives contains a number of dilemmas about its structure, each based on the €1 billion available from the coalition agreement. For example: allowance for all students, or only those who have benefited from student grants?

Currently, the government is leaning toward a premium for all students who signed up under the student loan system and who took their diploma – even if they were eligible for student scholarships at the time, but didn’t take advantage of them. For a (nominal) 4-year study period, it comes to more than 1,400 euros. Students who start a study program in the academic year 2022-2023 will still have to deal with the loan scheme for one year and will receive an allowance of 359 euros.

Providing the base scholarship is a top priority of the Education Executive Agency (DUO). This is a big technical job, and it doesn’t have a relatively long time. Only then can DUO start adjusting the system for the allowance. Despite DUO’s great efforts, payment or settlement will not be possible before 2025.

Additional funds via study vouchers

As an additional amount of money on top of the allowance, the Cabinet is proposing to make existing pre-study vouchers freely disposed of. For about 374,000 students, the amount of approximately 1,770 euros is deducted from student debt. If there is no student loan (anymore), this amount will be paid. Students in the first four years of the student loan system received these vouchers after obtaining the diploma because they could not yet benefit from investments in improving the quality of higher education. So far, the vouchers can only be used for further training.

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Example: Anyone who has completed their studies in four years and studied from the 2015-2016 academic year to 2019-2020 will receive 3,206 euros: a total of 1,436 euros in compensation (the preferred alternative) and about 1,770 euros from a student loan slip.

Conversations with students and parliament

In addition to the above plans, the Cabinet is in talks with young people about the broad concerns of their generation, such as being able to find a home or the pressure to perform. For example, Minister Djgraf is currently holding talks with students across the country under the title “Speak!”. The results of this exploration will be sent to the House and Senate. After all, reintroducing the base scholarship and bonus didn’t solve all of this generation’s problems.

On April 4, Minister Dejgraf will discuss his proposal and the dilemmas of public discourse with the House of Representatives. Shortly thereafter, the Internet consultation will begin and everyone will be able to respond to the proposal. The plans will then be submitted to the House of Representatives as a bill.

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