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Folia's voting aid | What do parties want for students and the university?

17 november 2023 - 12:06

No clear voting plans yet for Wednesday, Nov. 22? We looked at relevant themes for students and universities and summarised the party programs of the seven largest parties for you. What do politicians want to do with the basic grant, the room shortage, increasing internationalization and psychological complaints among students? Scroll down and find the party that suits you.

1. The basic grant and the ‘unlucky generation’


Recently there was again a lot of fuss about the so-called 'unlucky generation': the group of students between 2015 and 2023 who fell under the social loan system and therefore did not receive a basic grant. As of this year, students do receive a basic grant again. Do parties want to keep it? And to what extent do they want compensation for the loan system students?


First of all: all parties seem to be happy with the reintroduction of the basic exchange in their party programs, including popular newcomer Nieuw Sociaal Contract (NSC) of former CDA MP Pieter Omtzigt. In doing so, he says he has a specific eye for loan system students: if it were up to him, the study interest rate for this cohort should remain ‘very low’ for ten years. Students must also be accommodated in other ways, although Omtzigt does not yet write what those ways are.

The center-left party Volt wants to compensate the loan system generation with 10,000 euros per student

The Partij voor de Dieren (PvdD) wants to increase the basic scholarship by a few dozen. In addition, party leader Esther Ouwehand wants to lower tuition fees and set the study interest rate at 0 percent for everyone. The BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB) also advocates abolishing interest on student loans and a possible increase of the basic scholarship ‘if it turns out that it is too low’. In addition, the BBB writes explicitly that student debts should not count toward mortgage applications. Both parties want ‘fair’ and ‘generous’ compensation for the loan system students, but again do not write what that should look like.


GL-PvdA and D66 want to remove student loan interest only for the loan system generation. These parties also write that student debt should not count toward mortgage applications. GL-PvdA also wants students who were covered by the loan system to be able to participate in the new basic grant if they are still studying now.


Government party VVD wants student loans to count ‘less’ when applying for a mortgage and writes nothing about the loan system generation or interest on student loans in the party program. In this regard the PVV is a straggler: this party writes nothing at all about these topics in its election program.


Noteworthy: D66 wants the OV-fiets (the Dutch nationwide bike sharing system) to also be included within the OV-studentenkaart (a free student pass for public transportation). The center-left party Volt wants to compensate the loan system generation with 10,000 euros per student.



2. The room shortage


The housing market is stuck, and that hits students hard. Meanwhile, students spend an average of more than three years on the waiting list at student housing providers such as Duwo and SSH. This means that students sometimes have to wait longer than their studies take. Especially in large student cities, this problem is growing: in Amsterdam, waiting times have increased by one or two months annually since 2019. In Amstelveen, students are now enrolled for an average of five and a half years. If you do not wait, then you will have to rely on the more expensive private sector: last year, an Amsterdam student spent an average of 580 euros per month on a room. What do our country's future leaders want to do about this?

D66 leader Rob Jetten at UvA discussion platform Room for Discussion

D66 wants to increase the number of student housing units; a measure the party says should become part of the Public Housing Control Act. The party also wants more student housing in inner cities. In addition, list leader Rob Jetten wants to convert vacant office buildings into student rooms, for example in office buildings near Uilenstede, where 2,500 student rooms were previously planned. A quarter of the new student housing should consist of student houses with communal areas, he states in the party program.


GL-PvdA wants to experiment with a draw for social housing instead of a fixed waiting list. The party also wants to build more floors on existing housing. BBB seeks a solution within the rent allowance system: Caroline van der Plas wants student housing to be allowed as a form of housing when applying for rent allowance. The party also wants more flexible regulations to make room rentals more interesting for homeowners.


The PvdD wants sustainable housing in empty office buildings. The party also encourages ‘multi-generational housing,’ i.e. housing in which young and old people live at the same address, and frontwoman Esther Ouwehand wants to experiment with other forms of housing and communities, for example on former farms.


NSC devotes one short sentence to student housing: according to Omtzigt, regions should be supported in plans for ‘affordable housing on campus,’ which should make more housing available in the city. The VVD, like D66 and the PvdD, says it wants to convert more existing, vacant office buildings. The PVV reports nothing at all on student housing.


Noteworthy: JA21 and Forum voor Democratie (FVD) want priority arrangements on the housing market for Dutch students. Bij1 wants young people to automatically register as housing seekers in their place of residence from the age of 16.




3. International students

Overcrowded lecture halls, housing shortage, language level problems. Internationalization in higher education is one of the most sensitive topics in politics. For example, Board President Geert ten Dam previously sounded the alarm about the UvA bursting at the seams. ‘The Roeterseiland campus is full. With even more students there will be a shortage of teaching spaces.’ How can universities manage the influx of internationals? And what tools do the parties have in store for them?

The VVD finds the current international intake at universities ‘unfocused’ and wants universities to be able to set a numerus fixus

It seems that all parties find the current situation unworkable. Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius of the VVD finds the current intake at universities ‘unfocused’ and wants universities to be able to set a numerus fixus (limited admission) for international students. If it were up to the VVD, internationals would be given priority if they add something to ‘education, research, labor market or region’. The VVD wants to make bachelor education Dutch-language, unless English is really necessary for the specific field of study or the labor market. In sectors without labor shortages, institutions should be reluctant to recruit, according to the party. Furthermore, the party wants ‘effort relief’ for internationals who do come to learn Dutch, in the hope that students will stay more often.


NSC also wants the importance of the Dutch economy, labor market and availability of student rooms to guide the admission process of internationals. Ideally, Omtzigt would like to see a binding covenant that looks at available capacity for housing and training places per region and sector. Just as with the VVD, Omtzigt believes that study programs should become Dutch-language by default - barring exceptions in certain sectors or for master's programs. This should also encourage internationals to learn Dutch and stay here.


Read the entire election programs here:



For this article, we looked exclusively at the election programs of the seven largest parties in the Nov. 14, 2023 Ipsos polls.

D66 wants to remove financial incentives for universities to offer English-language education. Universities should take their responsibility to help students find their way in the Netherlands, the party believes. D66 wants to set a maximum number of internationals per municipality, based on available housing and facilities. Institutions should also help students find student rooms free of charge. The party does want to encourage talented students to stay and also allocates extra money for scholarships for students from the former Dutch colonies and poor international talent.

GL-PVDA wants to revise the funding system of universities to limit the growing number of international students. The fixed amount for higher education institutions should be increased relative to the amount per student. The party wants to tighten the Higher Education and Scientific Research Act so that the choice of English-language programs could be better substantiated. The Minister of Education should be stricter on this from GL-PvdA.

The PVV, of course, also wants the Netherlands to severely restrict the influx of ‘study migrants’. Party leader Wilders wants only Dutch-language bachelor's programs and a maximum number of international students on master′s programs. How many that may be, the party does not write.

Esther Ouwehand of the PvdD wants to set limits on the ‘excessive influx’ of foreign students, according to the party program. How she intends to do that is not clear from the election program.


Noteworthy: The reformed SGP specifically states that ‘also in the south’ bachelors should be available in Dutch.




4. Research: budget and transparency


Temporary contracts, high work pressure for researchers: the research world seems to be struggling, but it is also struggling with its own problems. Most recently, the UvA created ‘the appearance of a conflict of interest’ in a collaboration with Netflix. How do the parties deal with conflicts of interest and transparency? And how can politicians give science a leg up?

VVD party leader Dilan Yeşilgöz wants foreign researcher collaborations to be screened

Former European Commissioner Frans Timmermans of GL-PvdA wants ‘open science’ to become as much as possible the norm for all research paid for with taxpayer money. Research should no longer be funded by one or more companies, but the party wants a fund to which companies can donate, after which they can formulate a research assignment in consultation. The fund should oversee social value and independent execution.


Open science is also mentioned with the PvdD, the party wants funding for the open access and open science movement. Scientific articles and reports paid for (in part) with taxpayer money should be available for free access.


D66 is the only party that wants to keep the National Science Growth Fund in its entirety. The Growth Fund invests in long-term economic growth, with 900 million going to research projects. D66 is also investing an additional billion in academia. The party wants to grow to an annual investment of 1 percent of GDP in science.


The VVD the National Growth Fund total stop. The VVD also wants to discontinue several other funds, such as the Research and Science Fund, worth 500 to 700 million. The VVD and NSC want to seek future budgeting of science more from industry. To prevent conflicts of interest, these parties want foreign collaborations to be screened.

Despite his disbelief in moon landings, Thierry Baudet wants to release money for a lunar probe

The PvdD also advocates screening by an ethics committee of professorial positions funded by the business community. In addition, the PvdD wants to increase funding both from the Ministry of Education and from independent, public organizations such as the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The party does not discuss exact amounts.

The BBB focuses on greater cooperation between the armed forces and the research field. The party hopes to expand the Defensity College, a defense project where a work-study can be done. The student completes such training in the position of reserve officer.

The PVV does not mention science in its party program.

Noteworthy: Volt makes a special case for the Einstein telescope, a detector of gravitational waves in South Limburg. Despite his disbelief in moon landings, Thierry Baudet wants to release money for a lunar probe and a launch base on Aruba.




5. Student Welfare

Especially since the corona crisis, student welfare has been a hot topic. One in three young people indicated in research by the RIVM that they experienced mental complaints in the past month, and 68 percent of students experience emotional exhaustion complaints, according to knowledge institute Trimbos. Parties react differently to the high performance pressure and mental well-being of students. Like the UvA, do they want to stick with binding study advice (bsa)? Or do they see other ways to reduce student stress?

Foto: Archive Folia
GL-PvdA leader Frans Timmermans argues in the party program for lessons on mental health in secondary schools

D66 wants significantly more psychological counseling for students. The party wants to invest in student counselors and confidential advisors. The party pays extra attention to creative and sports programs; programs where cross-border behavior has occurred in the past. Financial resources will also be made available to student organizations and associations for mental well-being initiatives. D66 also wants a national framework for minimum cooperation between universities and healthcare providers such as the GGD.


The GL-PvdA wants to address the problem earlier through lessons on mental health in high schools, but does not mention mental health in higher education. The PvdD does advocate breaking taboos about mental complaints while studying. The party wants a personal study advisor to guide each student.


Most parties mainly want to reduce study pressure to increase student welfare. The PVV and VVD are in favor of keeping the bsa. They think that the bsa ensures that students do not get into trouble later on. D66 agrees, but advocates relaxing or lowering the bsa to 30 study points.


The VVD is also in favor of flex-study, paying by study credit. This would allow students to combine their education with volunteer care, top sports or a job. Moreover, you no longer have to take a subject if you have already proven your mastery of it in practice. Furthermore, the VVD wants to promote flex-study by obliging universities to offer all lectures online.

VVD wants to promote flex study by requiring universities to offer all lectures online

Instead, GL-PvdA wants to reduce performance pressure by abolishing the bsa. That advice should no longer be binding. There should also be a first-generation fund, for students who do not have a parent with a theoretical education, to bridge social classes. This can be through material help such as money for a laptop or a research stay abroad, or immaterial help such as coaching and peer contact.


The PvdD also opposes the bsa and favours personalized feedback. The PvdD also joins supporters of flex study. According to the party, flex-study makes it easier for students to combine their studies for a year with a management position or participation council, informal care or other social work. GL-PvdA wants an extended scholarship for board positions and participation councils.


Noteworthy: D66 wants less demanding admission requirements, whereas the FvD wants stricter admission requirements, so that students do not study above their level. In addition, the left-wing BIJ1 wants all theoretical education to be free of charge.



Not decided yet? Then do the kieswijzer from Kieskompas, the Stemchecker from de Volkskrant (which looks at how parties in the House of Representatives voted), the Jongerenkieswijzer or search by theme via the site, created by UvA students. You can vote on Wednesday, November 22, from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm. Voting in Amsterdam can include the Science Park and the P.C. Hoofthuis - see all locations here.