Comment on column Wim Groot

17-09-2009

I would like to comment on the column written by Wim Groot in the latest issue of Observant. Non-Dutch speakers were denied the opportunity to enjoy his reminiscences about a Masters opening ceremony in Kiev and his subsequent philosophizing on the study fees paid by Dutch (and EEA) students. To summarize: Students are spoiled, paying roughly 20% of their education costs. The remainder is paid for by taxpayers, many of whom have not enjoyed a university education and therefore earn less money. As university graduates earn more money on the whole, university education is thus a redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. Conclusion: fees should be increased by approximately 150%.

Groot neglects the fact that there is in the Netherlands a graded tax system. The result? Higher earners (including those university graduates) pay higher taxes, proportionally investing more in tax paid ventures i.e. public university education. He also ignores all the other forms of income of the Dutch state, most notably VAT (btw). Further, and more critically, he instrumentalizes education to the extent of weighing its costs with the (possible) increase of earnings, as if education and academia are merely economic goals and have no worth in and of themselves.

His assessment of Dutch students as ‘spoiled’ (verwend) and ‘lazy’ (gemakzuchtig) is offensive both to those students who work hard to pay their way through university and to those who work hard at achieving excellence in academics. He speaks with the dismissive disdain typical of someone with a comfortable income at the "few hundred Euros" students would have to pay back if they quit their studies. People without a qualification have to work quite a bit longer for those measly hundreds than you, Wim.

Let’s be thankful that Groot himself has enjoyed a heavily subsidized education and is paid for by those same poor, uneducated taxpayers, enabling us to easily recognize his ‘Freudian’ opinions as hypocritical. And let’s be thankful that Dutch university fees are determined by law.

 

 

Tom Theuns, student UCM

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