Sunday 17 October 2021

Bringing back student grants is up to the next cabinet, minister says

Students clustered together while studying outdoors.

Students have been urged to keep their distance. Photo: Depositphotos

It will be up to the next government to decide if and how the current student loan system will be overhauled,  Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven said on Friday ahead of the cabinet meeting.

MPs voted in favour of changing the system during the debate on the government’s spending plans, although the VVD, the biggest party in parliament, does not back reforms. MPs did not say how the change would be implemented or paid for.

Van Engelshoven said she hoped that the next cabinet could take a ‘speedy and clear’ decision about changing the loan system but pointed out that compensating students who were not entitled to grants will cost billions of euros.

Since 2015, students have had to borrow to fund their degree courses, and run up an average debt of around €25,000 by the time they graduate.

Prior to the abolition of grants, students who live away from home were given €260 a month towards their upkeep and college fees. The rest they could borrow and on average they left university or college with some €15,000 in debts.

Student organisations have welcomed the news that that grants may be brought back but still sound a note of caution.

‘We are not there yet,’ said Ama Boahene, from student union LSVB. ‘A basic grant still has to be developed and we need to think about the compensation for the student loan generation.’

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