Monday 18 November 2019

Labour party does u-turn, says student grants should be brought back

Delft University graduates will be in demand. Photo: Depositphotos.com

The Dutch Labour party has done a u-turn and is now calling for the return of student grants, which were abolished under a Labour minister in 2015.

Party leader Lodewijk Asscher told Radio 1 news on Tuesday that youngsters are facing many uncertainties at present and that the reintroduction of a basic grant would give them more security.

Since 2015, students have had to borrow to fund their degree courses, and run up an average debt of around €21,000 by the time they graduate. ‘We can now see that the debt is proving a problem for a large group,’ Asscher said.

The change of position by the Labour party now means there is majority support for the return of grants in parliament. Two of the four coalition parties – the CDA and ChristenUnie – also back a return to grants.

The end of student grants was finally pushed through parliament in 2015 with the support of Liberal democratic party D66 and the left-wing greens of GroenLinks. In May, Groenlinks also changed its position and called for the return of the grant system.

Student loans are now being looked at by banks when assessing mortgage requests, something which ministers said in 2015 would not be the case.

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said in a reaction she has asked for the student loan system to be reexamined and is not opposed to reforms if it transpires that some students are being disadvantaged.

Student groups have welcomed the rethink.

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