Minister Bussemaker needs to do more for disabled students, asserts the opposition in the House of Representatives. Many are shocked at the dropping of the basic grant.
The Dutch Student Union protested in The Hague last Monday. They wanted to draw attention to the challenges that students with a functional disability face in higher education. The Union built a classroom with a couple of empty spaces. The message was that those spaces were where disabled students should have sat.
With the debate about the education budget on the way, Minister Bussemaker must have anticipated the questions from the opposition. She sent the House of Representatives a list of all the measures in place for students with a functional disability.
They can apply to their university of applied sciences or university for financial support if they experience increasing study delay. They can receive 862.50 euro per month from the ‘profileringsfonds’ (profile fund). Municipalities too offer support, though this varies tremendously among municipalities.
The study grants also take disability into account. Students with disabilities have 1,200 euro waived if they graduate. This is about the amount of a one year basic grant for students living at home. And should students be unable to graduate because of chronic disability, the performance-related grant is gifted to them.
But these arguments could not convince the opposition. “A twenty percent drop in intake is unacceptable,” said MP Michel Rog, CDA. He wants to make it easier for students with a functional disability by, for example, giving them an extra grant for a year or by letting them pay through credits.
Even MP Eppo Bruins (ChristenUnie) expressed his concern. “Does the Minister agree that only information provision is not enough?” Does she not want to help these students anymore by giving them more money, for example?
Paul van Meenen (D66) pointed to the large differences between municipalities, to which students need to turn for support. “It is almost left to fate whether or not someone can study.” He also then wants to know what the minister is going to do about it.
In April, it appeared that Minister Bussemaker also expressed her concern about the decreasing intake of students with disabilities. She will answer the opposition’s questions tomorrow.