VU University Amsterdam discourages HBO graduates from applying

The VU University Amsterdam admits that it discourages graduates of a university of applied sciences (HBO) from applying for one of its master’s degree programmes.

“The first hundred study days have gone swimmingly”

Are you a first-year student? Congratulations, you’ve nearly been studying for one hundred days.

Cabinet launches attack on internship abuse

Many interns are being exploited and should actually be paid for their work. Lodewijk Asscher, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, writes that the Cabinet wants to tackle internship abuse.

Wealthier VMBO pupils more often attend universities of applied sciences

Wealthier VMBO pupils more often attend universities of applied sciences

Tax windfall results in salary increases in education

Educational staff will get a raise next year. The Cabinet can afford this since the government received 4.3 billion more euros in income than indicated by the budget

‘Too few ombudsmen: a real concern’

According to Lies Poesiat ombudsmen are crucial for students when it comes to reducing the many complaints in higher education. ‘Unfortunately there are still far too few of us.’

Study Guide criticises error in starting salaries

[2016-15-11] • HOP, Irene Schoenmacker

Study Guide criticises error in starting salaries

University of applied sciences students who earn a couple of hundred euros more than their counterparts with a research university education? The Study Guide believed that this cannot be right, and it did its own calculation.

According to the University Study Guide in a report that appeared today, the information website, Studiekeuze123, published some quite odd figures in October. It appears that research university educated students’ salaries are far too low, while university of applied sciences students’ appeared to earn relatively high salaries.

It appears that a university of applied sciences graduate of religious studies earns 550 euros more than someone with a Master in Theology. A new calculation made by the Study Guide however, showed that the research university graduate in actual fact earns 300 euros more.

The discrepancy was caused by an error in calculation, says the Study Guide. In its figures, the Dutch university association, VSNU, included people who had not yet started a job or did not wish to disclose their salaries. This caused the average amounts to be lower. Further, additional income was included in the university of applied sciences graduates salaries, while part-time salaries were extrapolated to full-time salaries. These were not done for the research university graduates.

At the moment, some graduates find jobs more easily than others, says the Guide. There seems to be a split in professions. Technical, IT, medicine and economics graduates for example get jobs more quickly and earn quite well with an average gross income of 3,000 euros.

Political science, psychology and even biology graduates face more challenges, with 15 percent of them not in paid work after one year. Some of them, art historians and cultural anthropologists for example, have monthly salaries below 900 euros. They are at the top of the Guide’s so-called ‘crepeerindex’ – an index of the most poorly remunerated professions.

Anyone interested in high salaries should become a dentist. Dentists earn more than 5000 euros a month.

The research university education salaries have now been removed from the Studiekeuze123 website. The high university of applied sciences’ salaries will be revised. The Study Guide has been invited to give its input. The editorial team is pleased with this gesture.

University of applied sciences students who earn a couple of hundred euros more than their counterparts with a research university education?

THUAS Writing Centre gets off to a festive start with a talk given by Wim Daniëls

THUAS Writing Centre gets off to a festive start with a talk given by Wim Daniëls

On Tuesday, 15 November, the Language Expertise Centre launched its Writing Centre: a place where students can talk with a writing tutor about the texts they have to write for their degree programme. To mark the occasion, Wim Daniëls had been invited to give a talk in the Speakers’ Corner that would begin at 12 noon.

This event was organised together with The Lighthouse.

The THUAS Writing Centre
The idea for writing centres originated in the United States. Now, more and more Dutch institutions of higher education are establishing writing centres in the knowledge that students need support in the writing process. In the wake of successful writing centres in Nijmegen, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Leiden, THUAS is now opening its own Writing Centre.

What goes on at the Writing Centre?
The Writing Centre gives students a chance to talk with a writing tutor about the texts they have to write for their degree programme. These tutors are typically master’s degree students with a talent for language who have been trained to be writing tutors. Topics to be discussed could include the approach to a writing assignment, the structure of the text, the line of reasoning or the formulation. The writing tutor offers guidelines and strategies to deal not only with a certain assignment but also with future writing tasks. The writing tutor will not get involved with the subject matter of a text and will not improve spelling and grammar. Instead, the writing tutor will point out what strikes him/her about a text and refer the student to relevant sources.

Pilot phase
As yet, the THUAS Writing Centre is a pilot programme set up and run through the Language Expertise Centre for the next 18 months. Hopefully, the Writing Centre will demonstrate its usefulness during this time and will become a permanent educational facility at THUAS. During the pilot phase, the Writing Centre will limit its services to students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programmes taught in Dutch. If successful, this facility could later welcome students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programmes taught in English.

Rik van de Vlugt was appointed to supervise and monitor the pilot programme. It was during his master’s degree programme in History at Leiden University that he acquired extensive experience with the Writing Centre at the Expertise Centre for Academic Skills run by the Faculty of Humanities.

The Writing Centre’s location
For now, the Writing Centre is accommodated in Poseidon 1.11, but the tutors can also agree to meet with students at other campus locations.

Students can set up an appointment with a tutor by completing the registration form at the website. There is no cost for these services, and students can see a tutor more than once if necessary.

For questions or comments about the Writing Centre, you can contact Janneke Kelter ( or Rik van der Vlugt (

Location: OV 4.82 / P 1.11

Not everyone is happy with a stronger Degree Programme Advisory Committee

Degree Programme Advisory Committees sometimes have little power. It would probably be better if they would get a stronger voice, says the Educational Inspectorate. But not everyone is convinced of this.

New research presented by the Educational Inspectorate last Friday shows that there is little similarity in how Degree Programme Advisory Committee operate. “Their ambitions are still highly diverse,” emphasises inspector Martine Pol during a busy conference in Amersfoort.

Some Committees meet very often, others rarely and they often do thankless work. Half the Committee members say that they seldom or never receive responses from management. This will change, hopes the Inspectorate, if the Committees become stronger in a recent change of law turning them into official representative partners.

From September 2017 onwards, they will have the right of consent instead of only the right to give advice. Furthermore, their members, just as is the case with other representative bodies, will be elected officially.

Whipping up
The expectations of the ISO and Dutch Student Union are very high, it appeared during a panel discussion. But Thom de Graaf, chair of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, is less enthusiastic. The Committees should not all be tarred with the same brush, he warned. If everyone is satisfied with a degree programme, should you stimulate the Committee to have even higher aspirations, as the Inspectorate wants?

Martin Paul, Chair of the Board of Maastricht University, believes so: “It is highly desirable, even if the degree programmes and the Committees are good.” He too recognises that there are large differences, but this is why he thinks it is important that best practices are shared. For example on the new website about Committees.

In one of the many workshops, it appeared that the legal position of the Committees is still largely unclear. Just take the elections – what should they be like was the question of several conference participants. What would happen if a Committee does not even agree with the degree programme management, or, worse, with the elected Department Council too?

Education lawyer, Frank Hendriks, was unable to answer many of the questions because the law itself says little about this. The universities and universities of applied sciences will have to interpret much of this themselves. “It will be a source of joy for the institutions’ lawyers,” he jokes.

Not all conference participants are happy with the Committees’ right of consent. “Little changes for us,” says a Utrecht University Committee member. “Our advice is already taken seriously.” But one university of applied sciences lecturer considers it important that a Committee is stronger should the relationship with the Department Council not be that good. “Then you can fall back on the law.”

And should we be that happy with elections for Committee members? “Before you just applied,” says a student of the University of Groningen. “And the degree programme checked whether or not you were motivated. Now students may stand because they think it looks good on their CV and will have their friends vote for them.”

New contact point for problems with housing benefit

In a couple of months, lots of students will lose their independent address – they will start sharing their address with others. The Landelijke Studenten Vakbond (Dutch Student Union) anticipates problems with the rent subsidy and has opened a contact point.

From 1 January 2017, ‘non-independent’ rooms will not have their own address anymore. For example, students whose address is 84-A or 84-F, will simply live at number 84. From next year onwards, everyone living in student accommodation will have the same address.

This could have consequences on the housing benefit. One of the requirements is that the applicant’s income is not too high. Together, the students may earn too much, and will have to face the consequences.

As early as 2013, when it was announced, student housing associations and the Dutch Student Union warned that there would be problems with the ruling. At the beginning of this year, they came up with a solution – to make a separate, country-wide register of ‘non-independent units’. But Minister Blok saw no benefits too this, it was too expensive he said.

Jarmo Berkhout, chair of the Dutch Student Union, cannot predict how many students will be affected, but he is holding his breath. This is why there is now a contact point where students can go for complaints about housing benefits. To provide good information, the Union has also compiled a list of frequently asked questions.

Apart from this, the Tax Authority wants to prevent ‘households’ from being incorrectly merged and is taking note of the addresses. The system must clearly show who lives in which residence and whether he/she really has the right to housing benefit.