(Rotterdam) – The fresh government wishes to cut expenses with 15 to 18 billion euro’s during its next term of which 179 million is accounted for education. A way to lower expenses according to the previous government is to reduce or even eliminate the student grants to save 350 million a year by 2015 and 800 million by 2020. Reducing the value of the student travel card (40% off instead of free rides) would save another 200 million in 2020. And all this is necessary due to the financial crisis created by the banks that took high risks.
Now, what no political party dared to do before the elections, the new government wants to take a look at the yearly tuition which they think could be increased, especially for the Master degrees for which students may even have to pay the full costs of 8,000 or more. As a result, the government could save billions on subsidizing universities while claiming the quality of education will remain untouched: after all, the amount the government cuts off is funded by the student. Decreasing student grants could furthermore act as a financial stimuli by making them focus more on earning their degree than on jobs.
With the new plans in creation, sources from various student organizations don’t deny new student protests, calling it ‘realistic’ but at the same difficult due to the cold and snow. Earlier this year various groups of students protested at different universities throughout The Netherlands and The Hague , home to the parliament. It is yet unknown if new demonstrations will be of the same magnitude or where they could be held. Lodewijk Berkhout, president of the Amsterdam student union ASVA did announce demonstrations in Amsterdam next Friday.
Many different (student) organizations, like FNV, Integrand, LSVb and ISO, throughout the country support a petition as a protest against the new government plans of which the first 100,000 signatures have been presented to the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science Halbe Zijlstra, November 24, 2010. Currently (last accessed: December 4, 2010) the petition holds more than 220,000 signatures and counting. The petition can be found by clicking here.