‘Unfortunate generation’ without a scholarship is not happy with a thousand euros: ‘I feel screwed’

The thousand euros that a student of the loan system generation receives as compensation is not compensation. On Saturday, students at Museumplein draw attention to the ‘false start’ of their working lives.

Raounak Khaddaric

The one who says ‘student life’ says: pasta pesto, bicycle exchange, days off for exams and rolling from the pub into the lecture hall. Nowadays, stress about student debt can be in the same row. It hangs like a dark cloud over our heads, says student Joep van Dijk (21) about his student debt. Van Dijk now has a student loan of 25,000 euros and is in his second year of political science at VU University Amsterdam. “I’m also going to a master’s, so I still have two years left. My debt is going to increase and it gives even more stress. A lot of stress. ”

Van Dijk is also chairman of SRVU students, and he is a member of the Faculty’s Student Council (FSR). On Saturdays, he works as a garbage man in the recycling site. He does all these things side by side because he does not want a study delay. Van Dijk: “A study should not only be about learning and reproducing. It is precisely self-development and the translation of theory into practice, even though it is made very difficult for us. ”

He calls the pressure to quickly take the exam ‘huge’ and in combination with his work ‘heavy’. “I am on the verge of becoming overworked, and at the same time I feel that I am not doing enough for a decent future. And in the future, I want student debt. ”

Poor compensation

On Saturday, Van Dijk will be with – it is expected – thousands of others at ‘the biggest student protest in years’ on Museumplein to protest what they see as poor compensation for the loan system. Bouke van Balen (24) is also there because, like other students who started their studies between 2015 and 2022, he ‘feels screwed up’. Van Balen is studying philosophy and psychology at the University of Amsterdam and has a debt of approximately 75,000 euros. He started studying when the loan system was introduced and will end this year, right after the loan system is abolished.

Eight years later, in 2023, the basic grant returns. The approximately 1.1 million students who have been named ‘accident generation’ or ‘loan system generation’ will be ‘compensated’. Although it can not be called compensation if it is up to Ama Boahene, president of the National Student Union (LSVb). In total, the cabinet provided a billion. Boahene: “A billion euros sounds like a lot, but if you convert it, it’s about a thousand euros per student.”

Small 14,000 euros

LSVb wants students to be retroactively compensated for an amount of the monthly basic grant. Students living away from home will receive approximately 280 euros per month. “If you study for four years, that means a compensation of almost 14,000 euros,” says Boahene.

The Hague policy, which was introduced and abolished over a period of eight years for such a large group, is unique. Experts know no other example. The freezing of teachers’ salaries between 2010 and 2012 due to budget cuts seems to affect it the most. As a result of this initiative, teachers missed out on a pay rise of almost 5 percent, which was never implemented, wrote work economist Frank Cörvers in his doctoral research in the education labor market.

But unlike teachers, students have yet to begin their working lives. According to the LSVb chairman, there is now a relatively small group of students making a false start due to ‘acting in The Hague’. “Some students have continued to live at home, have not been on exchanges or have not made a board year for fear of a high debt, while these things are part of your development.”

More dependent on parents

Also in this case, the people with the least resources are hit hardest. Nibud’s Student Survey 2021 shows that students in higher education have become more financially dependent on their parents since the introduction of the loan system. “The system presupposes that parents can contribute, but with an income about one and a half times the average, it is still very difficult. Students with wealthy parents can study without having to borrow money, others start their careers with a financial disadvantage, ” explains Nibud director Arjan Vliegenthart.

The parents of Valentijn van den Heuvel (21) can support him financially now that he is studying international media and entertainment management. They pay for a large part of his room in Amsterdam and also his studios. “I am not ashamed of it, but I hesitate to say it. Around me, I hear stories of others who, for example, can not leave their homes or can not live in Amsterdam because their parents can not help. I find that painful. ”

To get an insight into how big the problem is with the so-called accident generation, Van den Heuvel made a film at his internship company, the film production company Bruut Amsterdam, where the students tell how high their student debt is and what it does to them. It’s his way of dealing with this situation. “I thought: this problem has to become human. To be honest, it was only when I talked to all the students that I discovered how big the problem is for individuals. The only stress I experienced during my studies was “If I would meet my deadlines. There are thousands of students stressing over their part-time jobs, their bills, their studies and their student debt. There is a generation in permanent stress.”

To borrow

More than two-thirds of students receive money from their parents. That is 10 percent more than in 2017 and compared to 2015, when respondents were not yet covered by the current loan system, even 15 percent higher. The amount they receive has also increased by 46 euros to an average of 211 euros per month. According to Statistics Netherlands, the total student debt of Dutch students is 24.4 billion euros. Since the introduction of the loan system in 2015, the amount has doubled. Students between the ages of 25 and 30 have an average debt of 19,100 euros.

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