THE NETHERLANDS. Universities and schools of higher education are to receive hardly any extra money for their education programmes next year. This became clear from the National budget for 2015, which was presented on Tuesday on the day of the King’s speech. The cabinet will only delve into its purse for research and innovation.
The education budget for 2015 contains no surprises, because it is mainly a representation of previously made deals with the opposition parties, trade unions and educational institutes. It became clear last spring, for example, that abolishing the basic grant in higher education would not result in any extra money for the time being. This only happens after a few years, when former students start to repay their loans. For the next three years, universities and schools of higher education will have to put up their own investments (200 million euro each year), but no hard agreements have been made on this.
Some months before that, the cabinet had closed a deal with opposition parties D66, ChristenUnie and SGP, the so-called Herfstakkoord (Autumn agreement), in which universities and schools of higher education were promised a few million extra, but that increase is a modest one. Those who signed the agreement did set aside a hundred million euro extra for innovation, half of which is meant for the contribution of universities, schools of higher education and businesses to European innovation projects (co-financing) and another 25 million for the costs that institutes incur when a European subsidy is a little too small. The last 25 million is to go to the ‘open competition’ of research funding organisation NWO: the best scientists may submit claims.
Furthermore D66 got its way with a fund for the future. In this fund, the government will deposit proceeds from the natural gas field, and in doing so it invests in research and innovation. The fund will receive 125 million this year, fifty million next year, and another 25 million euro in 2016.
A remarkable item, although it is not large, is the experiment with flexible part-time education. The cabinet has freed up nine million euro for that in 2015. The idea is that part-time students will receive credit notes that they can use to pay for their own education, also with non-funded institutes.
The National Student Union is frustrated by this education budget, chairman Tom Hoven informed us. Students who start studying next September, no longer receive a basic grant but get nothing in its place either.
Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO) wonders where the extra investments from the loan system have gone. “The quality of higher education requires not only investments by students, but in particular from the government,” ISO chairman Falco Carelsz emphasises. “At the moment, all that is clear is that students have to pay more, but first it must become clear what exactly they will get in return.”