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Student loan group can access private info about student travel

THE NETHERLANDS. Student loan group Duo can ask for information about the movement of students suspected of committing fraud by pretending to live at home, the highest Dutch administrative court said on Monday.

This may be infringing on students’ privacy, but it is not such a serious infringement and serves a legitimate end, the court said in a statement. In addition, the information about travel movements – such as how often a student uses buses or trams in the area where they say live – can only be treated as partial proof and additional evidence is necessary to prove a student has been committing fraud, the court said.

Last August, the Volkskrant reported that the company behind the Dutch public transport smart card (ov-chipkaart) has handed travel information about the movements of ‘dozens’ of students suspected of lying about where they live to education ministry officials

When grants for new students were stopped in 2015 the difference between the financial help available to students living at home and those in lodgings disappeared. But students who started a degree course before that date are still receiving grants towards the cost of their studies.

Between August 2015 and September 2017, Duo asked for travel information about 377 students, of whom 307 were found to be committing fraud, the education ministry said last year.

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