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Dutch student reps still unsatisfied with cuts

September 15, 2011

By Marlene Werner

NIJMEGEN – Leading Dutch student associations LSVb and ISO are still unsatisfied with the cost-cutting amendments in higher education.

“There is still a lot to do,” said Pascal Ten Have, new chairman of the Dutch student-organization LSVb in an interview published by the Radboud University.

Current dissatisfaction focuses mainly on the ‘langstudeerdersboete’, a fine that applies to students, studying longer than the statutory duration dictates. Additional changes are also planned, all of which will become effective by next year.

But the government is not averse to compromise.

“Statutory-fee-less boardwork (bestuurswerk) does seem to be possible,” announced VVD-representative Anne Wil-Lucas Wednesday morning on Twitter.

As a result, the ‘langstudeerdersboete’ might not apply to students who study longer due to full-time boardwork.

State Secretary of higher education Halbe Zijlstra emphasized his opposition to the idea.

“The proposal concerning statutory-fee-less boardwork is feasible if certain conditions are met, but considering the marginal notes, I am not an advocate,” Zijlstra said

“Zijlstra is putting himself on thin ice,” Ten Have said. “We are still not at peace with the ‘langstudeerdersboete’. It is all about top-students and excellence, while the average student is being forgotten.”

“In any case, there is not yet an end in sight,” LSVb and ISO’s chairmen said.

They think universities should decide how much to charge for premaster-tracks.

“Pure meanness,” ISO-chairman Sebastiaan Hameleers said. “Premasters are simply milk cows(?) for universities now,” Ten Have added.

Ten Have believes that the coming months will see repeated dissatisfaction and possibly protests on the side of students.

“Students are not inactive and if it comes to the crunch, they will make themselves be heard.”

Next spring the government will decide upon the abolishment of master-scholarships and the restriction of free-public transport to students who adhere to the regular study-duration.

It remains to be seen how students will accompany the decision processes.

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