The number of teenagers with low skilled parents starting a degree has plunged 15% and there has been a 20% drop in the number of students with some form of handicap, the Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.
Overall, the figures show a 6.8% decline in the number of students, the Volkskrant said.
Since the start of the current academic year, students no longer get a grant from the state, although there are still provisions for the very poorest children.
Before grants were scrapped, education minister Jet Bussemaker described claims that the change would hit poorer pupils as scaremongering. Opposition MPs are now demanding she eat her words.
‘The minister can apologise to youngsters,’ Socialist MP Jasper van Dijk told the Volkskrant.
‘The sharp reduction in college take-up has hit a vulnerable group particularly hard,’ Christian Democrat MP Michel Rog said. ‘It would be appropriate if the minister would acknowledge the fact 8,400 youngsters have not started a degree thanks to her policies.’
Student organisations have also called on the minister to take action, saying access to education has been damaged by her plans.
Bussemaker, however, says the figures are in line with expectations and are the result of thousands of teenagers deciding not to take a gap year to beat the change in the system.
In addition, some courses, including teacher training, have boosted entrance requirements, which has also led to fewer students, she said.
Students currently leave university with a debt of around €15,000 but that is expected to rise to around €21,000 now grants have been scrapped.
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