Opposition MPs on Thursday slammed the government’s plan to abolish student grants for all but the very poorest students.
The measure is a ‘knife in the back’ for students, said Socialist MP Jasper van Dijk during a firey debate in parliament. ‘I would urge everyone to resist it.’
The government last week reached a deal with the D66 Liberals and left-wing greens GroenLinks on support for the plan to ensure the legislation can pass in the upper house of parliament. The VVD-Labour coalition do not have a majority in the senate.
In particular GroenLinks came under fire. MP Jesse Klaver was shouted at by protesting students when he arrived at the parliament building and accused of betrayal by other opposition MPs.
The Christian Democrats estimate the abolition of grants – which means €3,000 a year to students living away from home – will take the average student debt up to €30,000 to €50,000.
The government’s macro-economic think-tank CPB says the decision will add up to €9,000 to the average debt. The loan, which is subject to interest, can be paid back over 35 years.
Labour’s education minister Jet Bussemaker describes the change as balanced, arguing that the money saved on the grant – around €1bn – will be ploughed back into education, so everyone will benefit.
‘Borrowing from the government is not scary. People do not find it difficult when it comes to borrowing money to buy a house,’ she said, pointing out that repayments will only cost a few euros a month over a 35-year period.
Column: Student spin