Photographer:Fotograaf: Archief Observant
The housekeeping book of the international student
Every student in the Netherlands gets at least a basic grant from the government and a card for free public transportation in the Netherlands. But what do students from Germany, India, Poland or the United Kingdom get from their governments? Observant tried to find the facts and figures, and spoke with six international students about their housekeeping book.
Krishnamani Jayaraman (33), from India
Programme: Master in Intellectual Property Law and Knowledge Management
“I was very lucky; I got a High Potential scholarship from Maastricht University. It covers my tuition fee and my living expenses. I get €800 a month for food, clothes and housing.” Most of his money (around €700) goes to the rent for his small apartment. “I could have opted for a cheaper shared room. But I like some privacy and a quiet room. I want to concentrate on my studies. The master’s is tough, it’s a new one. We have to set certain standards and give feedback to the staff. I want to perform well.”
So that leaves only €100 for food and clothes? “I can manage. I’m a vegetarian, I cook my own food. Could I make a little suggestion? It would be great if we could have a small discount on the rent. Life would be easier.” But Krishnamani Jayaraman doesn’t want to complain, not at all. “The scholarship is really helpful for students from the developing world. Normally studying in Europe is too expensive for us. I have a great desire to give back to UM what they gave me.”
Oliver Neumann (21), from Germany
Programme: Bachelor in International Business (second year)
“My parents pay me €250 and last year I got a monthly €450 grant from the German government. You have to apply for it in June and I got it in January. I’m not sure if I’ll get a grant this year. It depends on my parents earnings and whether I can show that I have basic knowledge of Dutch. The faculty has to sign for it. They did after I had asked for it several times.” Besides this, Oliver Neumann has a loan from a private German bank of €100 a month. In total this gives him €800 a month to spend. “I have a room in a student house, the rent is €380. With the rest I pay my tuition fee and my living expenses. It’s not much – I have to be careful, but I work it out somehow. I don’t want to ask my parents for more. I wouldn’t like to be more dependent on them than I already am. I respect fellow students who have a job, but I have no time to work – I’m too busy with my studies and maaslife.nl project.”
Simon Burns (21), from the United Kingdom
Programme: Master in European Studies
“I have a bank loan that is especially for students. It’s ₤7,700 for a year. You can borrow up to ₤10,000 a year, but I didn’t need that. The interest for the loan is paid by the government, so you only have to pay back the actual amount of money you borrowed. That’s still a lot. I did my bachelor’s in the UK and borrowed ₤6,000 a year: ₤3,000 for tuition fees and ₤3,000 for living expenses. So I’m already ₤18,000 in debt.
“With the loan I don’t need a job, but I do have one, because I like it and it will look good on my résumé. I think students shouldn’t have to have a job in order to manage. It’s always a distraction from your studies and it always takes more hours than you realize. People forget that it takes time to go to work and that you’re tired afterwards.”
Kristien Festjens (21), from Belgium
Programme: Bachelor Law (second year)
“My parents pay my tuition fees and give me pocket money to buy things like clothes. I still live at home so I don’t have to pay rent. I do pay for my study books but that’s because I have a job in the Student Services Centre at the university. Because I work in the Netherlands I get the Dutch study grant for people who live at home. It’s €90 a month and I thought it would be fair to use it for my study books.
“In Belgium it’s normal that your parents pay for your entire studies. There is no study grant from the government but the tuition fees are much lower than they are in the Netherlands, €500 instead of €1,600. Also parents get ‘child money’ until their children are 25. All in all I think the Belgian government invests the same amount of money in students as the Dutch government, only they do it in a different way.”
Ezgi Bagdadioglu (20), from Turkey
Programme: Bachelor in Arts and Culture (first year)
“Turkish students who study abroad don’t get anything from the government. My family is paying for me. They paid my tuition fee and give me around €600 a month. They also help me out when I want to travel home, to Ankara.” Is this enough? “If you have a normal lifestyle you can manage it. I have a room in a student house, my rent is €226. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes. I buy food; I spend money on visits to other cities in the Netherlands and Belgium. I lived in Antwerp for a year when I was in high school. I speak Flemish and once in a while I travel to Antwerp to visit my ‘family’ and friends. I like to go to the cinema, theatre and museum. I don’t have a job. In my first year I wanted to discover ‘academic life’. Now I think having a job is part of it. So I’ll get a job next year. Now I don’t have time, I’m too busy. I’m a board member of student associations Orakel and UNSA.”
Pingshi Gu (21), from China
Programme: Bachelor in International Business Economics (first year)
“My parents pay for everything, I have really good parents. They say: spend the money you need, save what you can. I can spend around €800 a month. But when I travel I spend a bit more. I share an apartment with another Chinese student. My rent is €300. We eat together. My roommate makes the dinner – she’s a great cook – but we share the costs.
“I save money to travel around Europe. I’ve already visited Lille in France, the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. My parents encourage me to travel. They think it’s good to see a lot of the world. They wanted me to go to Europe. The Netherlands was the first country my mother visited in Europe.”
Pingshi Gu had to pay a tuition fee of €8000. “I’ll get it back if I’m one of the three percent best students. It’s really hard to be one of them because the level of my fellow students is high. I’ve planned to work very hard during the last three blocks – I hope I can manage it. ”
Cleo Freriks and Riki Janssen