28 October 2019 • HOP, by Melanie Zierse
Students’ purchasing power keeps decreasing: “Freeze tuition fees”
The Dutch National Student Association (ISO) predicts that the purchasing power of students will decrease again next year. Chair Kees Gillesse finds this worrisome and calls for a freeze in tuition fees.
Everyone will benefit from economic growth. This was the conclusion in September after news about the Budget Memorandum leaked. But this wonderful news doesn’t apply to the more than 750,000 students in higher education. The purchasing power of the average university of applied sciences student will decrease by 0.42% in 2020 and for the average research university student it will even decrease by 0.91% according to ISO calculations.
This would be mostly caused by an increase in official tuition fees and higher housing costs. Students are also “disproportionately” affected by an increase in the VAT rate, which has gone from 6 to 9 percent, according to the ISO report. “The government has decided to tax consumption more and labour less. However, this doesn’t apply to students, as they often are unable to work a lot. That means they are not compensated for the higher VAT rate.”
The purchasing power of research university students is decreasing more than that of university of applied sciences students because they live on their own more often and have to pay higher housing expenses, analyses the ISO. “University of applied sciences students also tend to work more, so they benefit relatively more from higher wages.”
Chair Gillesse states that this “worrisome trend” should be stopped. “This could mean that for students whose parents are unable to assist them, higher education may become unaffordable,” he writes in a statement.
He calls for a temporary freeze in tuition fees. “This will bring a direct relief, which is the least that could be done for the students.” Gillesse cannot understand why students aren’t part of the purchasing power calculations made by the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB). “They need the purchasing power data to make proper policy decisions. There is no reason why the purchasing power of students cannot be clarified.”