1 February 2019 • HOP, by Inge Schouten
‘Students with loans suffer from more stress and pressure to perform’
A study carried out on behalf of the Dutch National Students’ Association (ISO) has found that students who have a student loan suffer more frequently from extreme tiredness and are emotionally exhausted. They are also more likely to give up social activities than students who do not have loans.
The ISO wanted to discover the effects of the student loan system on student wellbeing. It instructed market research firm Motivaction to survey 563 students at universities of applied sciences and universities. Half of the students had taken out a loan with DUO, for an average of 450 euros per month.
According to the sample, almost three-quarters of the students with loans feel under greater pressure and have more frequent complaints due to the loan system. Half of the students are extremely tired and 40 percent say they feel “emotionally exhausted”. A fifth of the students surveyed also complained about suffering from burn-out. Students who take out loans have a stronger feeling that they should graduate quickly due to the high costs, than their counterparts who do not take out loans.
Pressure to perform
A third of the students with a loan experience both greater pressure to perform and increasing psychological complaints (such as tiredness, stress and depression). An equal number suffer from increased pressure to perform but do not experience psychological complaints more frequently. Seven percent of the students suffer only from greater psychological complaints due to the loan system.
“I often give up additional activities because I’m concerned about becoming delayed with my studies and incurring a high student loan debt”, was one of the statements presented to the students. Half of the students with loans identified with this statement. They also identified with the following statement: “I often give up social activities because I’m concerned about the costs.” It is not clear which types of social and additional activities are involved.
Nevertheless, the entire group of students surveyed was on the whole satisfied with the situation. They rated their lives at 7.3 on average. Most said that they mainly feel cheerful (79%) and relaxed (77) every week. Three-quarters of the students surveyed also said that the option to take out a loan is good. After all, some of them would not be able to study at all without a system of loans.
According to the ISO, the sample is the first national study into the relationship between student wellbeing and the loan system. There have been longstanding concerns about whether taking out a student loan leads to psychological complaints among students. President of the ISO, Tom van den Brink concluded: “When students take out a student loan, it also affects them emotionally. This has been established as fact by the study.” The student organisation made calls for the minister to also recognise this problem.
Minister Van Engelshoven is doubtful as to whether the loan system has an impact on student wellbeing. She has instructed the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) to conduct a study into stress among students. The results from this study are expected in spring.