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MPs call for flexible approach to funding degrees

THE NETHERLANDS. MPs from the ruling VVD and Labour coalition say students should be allowed to pay tuition fees for their university or college degree on a subject-by-subject basis.

Pieter Duisenberg and Mohammed Mohandis have submitted a motion to parliament backing a more flexible approach, the Volkskrant said on Monday. Students currently pay tuition fees of some €1,700 a year and are supposed to complete their primary degree in three or four years.

The plan would allow students to spread their degrees over a longer timespan so they could work, travel or run student organisations at the same time as studying. The plan is supported by the students’ union LSVB and the University of Amsterdam, where an experiment will start in September.

‘This could bring a fundamental change,’ said VVD parliamentarian Pieter Duisenberg. ‘It means a mindshift in the culture of studying. Students will be better placed to chose whether to study or work, or set up their own company.’

Since the abolition of student grants last year, students have come under pressure to finish their degrees more quickly, leaving little time over for other activities. At the same time, pressure for jobs is intense and students need to be able to build up a varied and interesting cv.

Duisenberg says he does not believe the change would allow students to become lazy. ‘Once they’ve paid they want to complete the subject,’ he said. ‘I am convinced they will make better choices. But this is why we are running an experiment.


From the next academic year, 1,000 students at Amsterdam’s university and hbo college will be allow to pay for their degree on a subject-by-subject basis.

‘The current system only recognises one type of student: the full-time student who takes a couple of years to learn it all and then goes to work,’ Duisenberg and Labour MP Mohammed Mohandis say in their article in the Volkskrant. ‘Keeping students in a straightjacket is disadvantaging the Netherlands.’

‘The way education is financed should enable students to make their dreams and ambitions a reality, not tie them up in knots.’


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