Niks meer missen?
Schrijf je in voor onze nieuwsbrief!
Foto: Marc Kolle

Higher education and the “unlucky generation” risk losing millions

Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau,
18 april 2024 - 16:29

Outgoing Minister Dijkgraaf once again urges haste. If his bill to refund basic grant money to institutions is not dealt with quickly, colleges, universities, and the “unlucky generation”, so called students who missed out on the basic grant for years, will miss out.

With the disappearance of the basic grant in 2015, extra money was released for higher education and was increased to €659 million per year. Universities and colleges were supposed to use that money to improve the quality of education. Education inspector NVAO judged whether the plans they made were good enough. But now that the basic grant has been reinstated, outgoing minister Dijkgraaf wants to give that money directly back to the institutions themselves.
€140 million for unlucky students
He wants to accomplish this with a legislative amendment that must still be approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate. In one fell swoop he put something else in his bill: an increase in the allowance for students of the unlucky generation to keep pace with inflation for 2023 and 2024. This means an additional €140 million.
In late 2023, the House of Representatives moved to declare the bill “controversial” until a new cabinet took office. The VVD in particular, a supporter of stricter requirements for funding universities and colleges of higher education, did not want to abolish grant funding just yet. But after an earlier appeal by outgoing minister Dijkgraaf and a motion by D66, a majority reversed their opinion. However, little has happened since then.

If the legislation passes in time, the funding will go directly to the institutions on January 1st, 2025

Dijkgraaf therefore once again insists that the bill must be dealt with by the House of Representatives and Senate before July 1st. If that fails, another round of quality assurance measures must be legally initiated before institutions can receive the money. Dijkgraaf says: “This new round will lead to a significant increase in the regulatory burden for all institutions of higher education. Within a virtually impossible time frame, the new plans will have to be prepared and then assessed by the NVAO.”
Shrinking regions
If the legislation passes in time, the funding will go directly to the institutions on January 1st, 2025. “This increase in the fixed base is particularly important for college and university institutions in shrinking regions because it leads to more stable financing despite declining student numbers,” the minister said.
Unlucky students who did not receive a basic grant will also benefit. The allowance for those who have studied for four years under the loan system (and who will graduate within 10 years) will then be increased by €200, from €1,436 to €1,640.
MP Jan Paternotte (D66) reports that the bill will “soon” be on the plenary agenda of the House of Representatives.