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What happens to the loan system millions?

THE NETHERLANDS. Wondering what universities plan to spend the funds from the basic student grant on? The NOS op 3 news desk has created a neat overview.

The abolition of the basic student grant in 2015 was meant to raise hundreds of millions of euros for the improvement of higher education. Institutions made clear in so-called ‘quality agreements’ what they would spend their share of that funding on.

What exactly was in those agreements? NOS op 3 sifted through them and created a comprehensive online overview. The ideas can be viewed by institution and some even by faculty. However, the exact sums being spent are mostly unavailable.

Masterclasses

The main theme that universities of applied sciences and universities want to work on is ‘more intensive and small-scale education’. In practice, this often comes down to hiring more lecturers and improving guidance for students.

There are also all kinds of ideas in the area of student welfare, flexible education and diversity. The NOS also listed some notable examples, such as masterclasses in Israeli dance or very expensive didactic courses for lecturers at the American top university Harvard.

In their plans – which were submitted long before the coronavirus crisis – many institutions also invest in ‘online education’. That includes more than streaming lectures; for example, all kinds of useful education apps are expected.

No progress

The big question is whether these plans will result in intensification of education. One in five educational institutions indicates that extra lecturers are desperately needed to keep up with the growing student numbers. However, that is not what the loan system millions are for.

Lyle Muns, chair of the Dutch National Union of Students (LSVb), is not very happy with the plans. “Students have had to relinquish their basic student grant,” he says. “So, at the very least, you can expect an increase in the student-teacher ratio. But if these ‘extra’ investments are just enough to compensate for rising student numbers, then there is still no improvement.”

Minister Van Engelshoven takes a different view. “Every additional teacher improves the student-teacher ratio and is, therefore, an investment in the quality of education,” she says in an interview with the NOS. “If there hadn’t been that investment, the ratio would have worsened. So, it still helps.”

New basic student grant

We will no doubt hear a lot about the loan system in the run-up to next year’s parliamentary elections. During the general political debates, several parties argued for a new basic student grant.

HOP, Evelien Flink

 

Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

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