Deal reached in free student public transport debate

Jet Bussemaker
. Minister for Education, Culture and Sciences, Jet Bussemaker (PvdA). Source: Flickr/Partij van de Arbeid

The parties negotiating the loan scheme for students have agreed that students may keep using public transport for free, according to sources in The Hague. This counts for university as well as college students doing vocational studies, the Volkskrant reports.

Up to now, vocational students were only allowed a public transport card (OV-card) on their 18th birthday, but this has now changed, as was wished by the PvdA. This card may only be ready in 2017, however.

Coalition parties the VVD and PvdA have reached an agreement with D66 and GroenLinks about a loan scheme that is going to replace the study grant. The money that will come from the scrapping of the grant will be put towards investment into higher education. This way, there is an opportunity to employ more teachers.

GroenLinks has been the biggest contester of certain points in these negotiations thus far, but has finally conceded and has bound itself to the coalition. The D66 and GroenLinks pleaded for the OV-card for students to stay in the new scheme.

According to the Volkskrant, there is some dissension within GroenLinks about the overall plan to scrap student financing. The political young peoples' organization Dwars finds it "very disappointing that the four parties choose for a scheme that expands inequality and that pushes young people to build up big debts. Unbelievable that GroenLinks agrees with this."

Bruno Braakhuis, former MP for GroenLinks, also reprimands his party. "A party that claims to be leftist makes students elitist", he tweeted.

The students themselves are equally angry that their study grants are disappearing. On the Plein in The Hague, some students erected a 'Jet Head' so that passers by could vent their frustrations on the minister of Education Jet Bussemaker. They do not see the OV-card decision as a relief. "Nothing more than a small concession for the loss of the study grant", they say.

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