Senate ends study grants for student loans

The basic grant for students will soon be a thing of the past. The First Chamber approved the introduction of a loan system last night.

The First Chamber discussed the legislative proposal of Minister Jet Bussemaker (Education) all day yesterday. The loan system will be introduced on September 1st of this year and will apply to higher- and university education. The money that is gained by the abolition of the basic grant will be reinvested in the quality of education. The effects of the introduction of the loan system on the accessibility of higher education will be monitored, to see whether any groups are disproportionately affected.

Bussemaker pointed to the "ghost stories" told by the opposition about huge debts that will arise. According to her, however, safeguards are applied to eliminate loan concerns, such as a maximum monthly payment of 4 percent of income and a long repayment term of 35 years.

In addition to the opposition, the PvdA and D66 also seemed critical of the proposal in the First Chamber yesterday. Senator Esther-Mirjam Sent (PvdA) stated during the debate that her faction has "big problems" with the profit-thinking of the law. "Studying is not just about private profit, but also to develop individual talent", Sent said. "Does the uplifting task of higher education come under pressure by focusing on private profit?"

Sent also questioned the legal certainty for current undergraduate students who, at the start of their studies, had not counted on the disappearance of the basic grant in the master phase. The D66 in the Senate also objected to this. Bussemaker eventually convinced these parties to agree to the legislative proposal.

Student Organization ISO believes that the Senate has given inadequate consideration to the risks of the loan system. "These risks are virtually ignored in the debate by the Minister, it's a shame that the Senate has not taken responsibility here", said ISO director Rosanne Broekhuizen. The National Union of Students called this "a black day for higher education".