Educators take advantage of STAP subsidy by inflating prices
With the new STAP subsidy, Dutch people can get a training budget of up to 1,000 euros from the government to complete courses in business skills. Some trainers seem to be taking advantage of the funding structure to get as much government money as possible, which could result in the fund getting used up sooner, RTL Nieuws reports.
Since last year, before the STAP budget was in place, many educators have increased their prices or used other strategies to get the maximum amount of money from the government, according to RTL. Training providers may, for example, jack up prices by automatically selecting extra options at checkout. These could include additional exams and certificates, which are not necessarily required. Discounts that are usually given to customers also often don't apply to people using the STAP budget.
This doesn't have an impact on students, since the subsidy applies to any class that is 1,000 euros or below. Because the subsidy can only be used once, no matter how much a class costs, students do not worry about the price, RTL reports.
At the education companies LOI and NTI, paying the course fee in one payment can give regular customers 3 and 5 percent off the price. The government, however, does not receive this same discount. LOI told RTL Nieuws that the STAP program creates "considerable costs" and that criticism of the lack of discount was "unjustified." Meanwhile, NTI cited "technical limitations."
Many training companies also raised their rates this year. Course at Laudius, Civas Training, LOI, NTI and NHA became between 4 and 18 percent more expensive in 2022. The trainers denied to RTL Nieuws that this increase has anything to do with the introduction of the STAP scheme.
"There is a huge gap in the scheme," Renée van Schoonhoven of the Vrije Universiteit told RTL. "From an ethical point of view it is of course not good what the companies are doing, but it is not prohibited. You should have closed this neatly at the front, by making agreements about, for example, a maximum annual price increase."
D66 MP Marijke van Beukering told RTL that she was "angry" about the findings. "I think it is important that the minister looks at what she can do about it," Van Beukering said. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment is responsible for the scheme.