Students to bombard Dutch PM with payment requests for their study debts

Students who started studying in the Netherlands in the 2015/2016 academic year or later want the Dutch government to pay back their study loans. They therefore created a Facebook event to bombard Prime Minister Mark Rutte with "Tikkies", referring to an ABN Amro app with which you can send a quick payment request to a mobile number. The Facebook event incudes a number for Rutte's party the VVD.

"We want our money back because we fell between the abolition and the reintroduction fo the basic study grant", the students wrote on the Facebook event. "That is why we are sending Tikkies en masse to Mark Rutte with our study debt on 24 November." According to the students, they are the victims of the government's "failed loan system experiment".

The student loan system replaced the basic study grant in 2015. A majority in Dutch parliament now wants to get rid of the loan system and reintroduce a form of the basic study grant, but the coalition parties of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie agreed in the Rutte III government agreement that they will make no changes to the loan system in this government's term.

The students want to use this campaign to bring the high study debts to the government's attention, initiator Youri Hoogewoning said to Hart van Nederland. "So far, there has been no response from politics", the student said. "But I hope Mark Rutte will respond to this himself and that a solution will be found."

A spokesperson for the VVD told Hart van Nederland that the party already received dozens of Tikkies, many for 750 euros - the maximum amount that can be requested through the app. The spokesperson called it "great to see that students are so involved in their future and make their voices heard in this original way". 

On Monday Statistics Netherlands released new figures showing that students in the Netherlands have a total study debt of 19.3 billion euros this year, 1.9 billion more than last year. In August social and economic council SER raised concerns about millennials reaching milestones later in life than previous generations. The SER blamed this on study loans combined with the situation on the Dutch housing- and labor markets. 



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