Vocational learners want to be called 'students'

Students (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Nehajgautam ). (Students (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Nehajgautam ))

Young people in vocational education MBO wants the government to officially refer to them as 'students'. Currently they are still called 'participants' in Dutch law, resulting in them not having access to all student benefits, according to the youth organization for vocational education JOB, NOS reports.

"It often happens now that you are told that you are not welcome somewhere, because you as MBO student are not a student", Roosmarijn Dam of JOB said to NOS. "Then you automatically start believing it."

According to DAM, the fact that not everyone sees MBO students as a student has a great influence on their student life. "It makes MBO students feel that they are not at the same level as other students and therefore can not claim the same things", she said. For example, MBO students can't join a student association or student sports association. "That makes it more difficult to become active as a student and build up a network." Some stores sometimes won't give MBO students student discounts, or MBO students sometimes can't enter a pub because they don't have a student card. 

"It comes down to the fact that the education you follow determines where you go or are welcome", Dam said to NOS. "MBO and 'higher' education remain two separate worlds, which we find incredibly stupid."

The government has considered MBO students as students for some time already. They are entitled to student finance and use student public transit cards. In government communications, MBO students haven't been called pupils or participants for years. But in the law, MBO students are still called 'participants'.

"Of course there is not a single student who looks at the law, but educational institutions, policy makers and politicians do", Dam said to the broadcaster. "If they continue to use the word 'participant', that language will be taken over again. Even the Minister misspeaks during debates sometimes, saying pupils. That says enough."

In December PvdA parliamentarian Kristen van den Hul admonished Minister Ingrid van Veldhoven of Education for calling MBO students pupils instead of students. The Minister said that she often gets angry reactions about this. "I notice that young adults have many sensitivities about what you call them", she said. "My main concern is that they receive good education, but I will pay attention to this." The Ministry of Education is currently investigating what it will take to change the term MBO 'participant' into 'student' in the law.