MAASTRICHT. It is unclear how much income the city of Maastricht loses out on every year because students fail to register as residents. Municipalities receive a sum of money from central government from the Municipality Fund, based on various criteria, such as the number of inhabitants. The city council actually has no idea how many students have or have not registered in their administration. This is laid down in the Wet Basisregistratie Personen (Basic Persons Registration Act) and that does not include registration whether someone is a student or not.
It was the Maastricht Labour Party fraction PvdA that submitted questions to the alderman responsible this summer, prompted by a report by BNR Nieuwsradio that student cities lose out on 1,200 euro per student because students fail to register as residents in the city where they live as students.
Since the abolishment of the basic grant, place of residence is no longer relevant for the amount of the student financing. Students feel no urge to take that extra step. But what they don't realise is that municipalities receive an amount from The Hague, depending on more than sixty factors, including the number of inhabitants, youths, benefit recipients, but also the size of the municipality. In addition, Dutch and EU students deny themselves the chance of voting in city council elections in their student city.
Council member Maren Slangen from the PvdA, also a student of Maastricht University, had hoped that alderman Jim Janssen could name an amount that the city was losing out on – the aforementioned 1,200 euro applies to among others Utrecht, not to Maastricht – but the amount is not available in the recent answer. “The city council cannot determine on the basis of the BRP [Wet Basisregistratie Personen, ed.] the number of students living in Maastricht and hence not what the financial consequences are either,” the alderman writes.
The city says that it already has registration sessions with Maastricht University for foreign students. These take place among others on location within university. “In addition, we also carry out address investigations in student houses and we actively respond to indications from agencies or inhabitants,” alderman Janssen wrote the PvdA fraction.
According to Slangen, those sessions should be expanded to also include Dutch students. “It might also be an idea that the city asks the UM how many first-year students have registered and then to check whether the number tallies with the registrations in the city, possibly between 1 June and 1 October.”
During an evening session organised by the city council and Maastricht University for some hundred private renters in the Student Services Centre, last June, the subject was mentioned too. Should the homeowner not be the one to inform the new inhabitant about registering and unregistering with the city? This is after all also a problem for them, with all kinds of envelopes lying around addressed to someone who has left long ago.