End student grants, freeze student numbers, say university chiefs

University chiefs have suggested an end to student grants, higher fees for slow students and a ceiling on the number of university places to counteract the effect of government cuts in higher education, Trouw reports on Friday.

The suggestion is made in documents drawn up after a high-level meeting between university bosses from the Dutch universities’ association VSNU in Paris two weeks ago, the paper says.
Not every university supports the plan but ‘there is support for the chosen approach in the main,’ the document says. It is unclear from the Trouw report what the status of the document is but the plans would appear to be more stringent than the government’s own proposals to cut spending.
University chiefs will continue their discussions this weekend, the paper says.
Job losses
The government is planning to cut spending on university and hbo colleges and the universities hope these measures will head off the impact, which will include large-scale redundancies, particularly in research.
The new cabinet wants to restrict student grants to four years of a bachelor’s degree and make masters entirely dependent on loans. The university plan goes further and would see grants phased out altogether. Instead, rewards would be built in to the support system for students who complete their degrees quickly.
In addition, the university chiefs suggest increasing fees for students who take more than the official number of years – around 44% of all students according to Trouw. The government also plans to introduce this penalty but the universities want to set the extra charges themselves.
Automatic placement
The third plank of the universities’ plan would be a freeze in student numbers. At the moment, everyone who passes a VWO school certificate is entitled to a university place, which leads to overcrowded lecture halls and makes planning difficult.
In January, several hundred university professors took part in a student protest rally in The Hague against the changes to the grant and fee system.

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