CDA calls for return of study grants

The CDA calls for the basic study grant for all undergraduate students to be re-introduced in the party's campaign for next year's elections, the Volkskrant reports. 

The party wants to cover the cost of returning the study grant by scrapping free public transport for students. Instead students should only be reimbursed for travel expenses between their home town and the university they attend, according to the CDA.

The basic study grant of 288.95 euros for students who live away from home and 103.78 for students living at home was scrapped at the start of last year. All new students now have to get a study loan from DUO.

According to the CDA, this loan system makes higher education less accessible, especially for young people for whom it is not easy to go to university or college. CDA parliamentarian and education spokesperson Michel Rog calls it "unacceptable". He refers to figures showing fewer students registering for the 2015-2016 academic year. Applications from young people with disabilities were down 20 percent, 15 percent fewer students moved from MBO to HBO and 15 percent fewer so-called first generation students applied for higher education. First generation students are students whose parents do not have a degree.

The CDA believes that the loan system goes against the fundamental idea of education. "It increases the divide between higher and lower education", Rog said, according to the Volkskrant. "And that at a tie when labor market prospects already require proper training."

Earlier this year Minister Jet Bussemaker of Education attributed the lower figures to a "bow wave effect". In 2013 and 2014 more students registered for higher education as to not miss out on the basic study grant, where they usually would have taken a year off to travel or work. In 2015, when the loan system was already in place, more young people took a year off before continuing their education, according to the Minister. She does not expect that the new loan system will stop young people from studying in the long term.