Student grants may be scrapped

Education minister Ronald Plasterk is considering replacing the basic student grant, currently some €253 a month, with a loan in order to give teachers a hefty pay increase and combat the teacher shortage.

Plasterk is due to discuss his ideas with finance minister Wouter Bos later today. Sources told the Volkskrant other options were also on the table, but that scrapping student grants was the most likely. These include an increase in university and college fees, a partial reduction in grants, or changes in financing master’s degree students.
Recommendations that teachers’ pay be put up considerably will lead to a €1bn shortfall in the education ministry’s budget. Bos has already made it clear no more money will be made available.
The Volkskrant says that Bos and Plasterk’s Labour party (PvdA) has long favoured ending the student grant system. Last year, Bos described it as ‘perverse solidarity’. ‘The butcher on the corner is paying for a lawyer’s education,’ he in a speech.
The idea can count on little support in parliament. The PvdA’s main coalition partner, the CDA, is opposed to a system of loans and opposition parties also have objections.
The students’ union ISO said it was ‘shocked’ at the suggestion. ‘It is already difficult enough for students,’ a spokesman said.

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