Privacy watchdog investigates alleged student finance body bias


Privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) has announced an investigation of student finance body DUO following research by broadcaster NOS and website Investico suggesting students with ethnic minority backgrounds are more often accused of fraud.

“We want to know more about how personal data are being processed in algorithms and make sure this happens correctly,” an AP spokesman told the broadcaster. The AP has also visited the DUO premises, he said.

NOS and Investico spoke to 32 lawyers who have represented students accused of lying about where they lived over the past 10 years. Students who live away from home are entitled to a higher grant, to help offset living costs.

Of the 376 cases the lawyers were involved in, 97% involved students with ethnic minority roots. The figures are “shocking”, law professor Gijs van Dijck told Investico at the time. 

The findings prompted education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf to announce a “thorough investigation” to ascertain if the DUO procedures are ”truly unbiased”.

DUO told Dutch News that it looks at potential misuse of its financing on the basis of ‘objective criteria, not by ethnicity, sex or any other characteristic’, however said that it would be evaluating its systems.

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