20 December 2016 • Bas Belleman / Youri van Vliet
Student loan – How to spend a new resource? We can work it out together
Universities, universities of applied sciences and students want to have a joint say in how the hundreds of millions of euros generated by the new student loan system will be spent – without any intervention by government authorities.
This resource is intended for such purposes as more intensive education, special talent programmes for students, and refresher courses for lecturers. The Dutch National Students’ Association (ISO), the Dutch National Student Union (LSVb), the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH), and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) presented their collective agenda this morning to Minister Bussemaker at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
The 2-page summarised agenda presented today by the coalition also stated that educational facilities should be ‘first-rate’ and that students should receive better guidance from student psychologists and student advisors.
These hundreds of millions of euros for higher education will become available due to the elimination of the basic grant, a government cutback that has kept new students from receiving this funding since September 2015. The measure took effect regardless of fierce protests by student organisations and a dislike for it among universities of applied sciences.
Now, in any case, they want to determine what will be done with the money themselves. According to the agenda, members of the student council would have a say in how this extra funding is to be spent. Universities and universities of applied sciences would also pledge to be accountable for the expenditures.
Their own report
At the same time, members of the educational institution’s participation council would be given the opportunity to submit their own report. This report would be published along with the educational institution’s annual report so that it would be accessible to everyone.
But will politicians simply look on from the sidelines? Having arrived at performance agreements with institutions of higher education (e.g. the rate at which students are completing their degree programmes, the number of class hours and refresher courses for lecturers), many of them want to arrive at ‘quality guidelines’ with these institutions. The question is, however: what will these agreements look like?
In this regard, universities and universities of applied sciences emphasise different goals. ‘Universities of applied sciences are committed to giving students the best possible guidance,’ said Thom de Graaf, Chairman of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, ‘especially for choosing a degree programme and during their first academic year.’
The universities, however, favour ‘more lecturers per student’, according to Karl Dittrich, Chairman of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands. The universities also attach more importance to the teaching performances of their lecturers.