College goers say they miss out on discounts, should be classed as students


Youngsters attending mbo colleges in the Netherlands are campaigning to be officially classified as students, saying they miss out on the discounts and other perks available to their university peers.

Youngsters attending mbo colleges (vocational training) have recently been given the right to student loans and discount travel but by law are still classed as ‘participants’.

This means they are not eligible for the cheap internet services or sports club deals which companies use to lure in youngsters and are refused entry to official student bars and cafes.

Health insurance company Zilveren Kruis, for example, gives university students a 10% discount, but only 7.5% to those at an mbo college, broadcaster NOS reported.

‘When people keeping using the word “participant”, it becomes the norm,’ Roosmarijn Dam, of the mbo student association Job, told broadcaster NOS. ‘The minister calls us school pupils in debates. That says everything.’

The separation means that mbo students and those at hbo colleges and universities, live in two separate worlds, she says.

‘I completely understand that minors are not allowed into student bars, but to ban one type of student is idiocy,’ she said. ‘What is so different about mbo’ers that you don’t want them in your bar?’

Vocational training

Dutch school pupils are streamed into three main types of education at the age of 12: vmbo (pre mbo college), havo (pre hbo college) and vwo (pre university).

Vmbo school pupils usually move on to an mbo college at the age of 16 or 17, where they can take further exams across four different levels. The longest courses take four years after which high performers can go on to an hbo college.

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