Independent journalism about VU Amsterdam | Since 1953
17 July 2024

Science
& Education

Governing parties: no wellbeing and a focus on excellence

It should remain possible to graduate cum laude, a majority of the House of Representatives thinks. Programmes also need to start having exit interviews with the late dropouts amongst their students. But an investigation into stress caused by the fine for slow students is a no-go.

In the debate on the mental health of students, the new coalition parties received sharp criticism: why is NSC worried about students that drop out early and why is VVD speaking out on behalf of students who wish to excel, while at the same time they’re tightening the screws by means of a fine for slow students?

Students who take more than one year extra to complete their studies will pay an additional three thousand euros in tuition fees and this increases the pressure on those with a physical or mental disability, critics argue. And what about informal care, elite sports and other good reasons for a delay?

‘No fine’

The new government parties dismissed everything out of hand. We’ll see how the government will structure things, NSC said. It’s not a fine at all, VVD stated.

Would it be possible for the government to investigate what measures “can promote the livelihood of students at all educational levels and can prevent financial stress amongst students”, Groenlinks-PvdA suggested. Out of the question, the new coalition responded.

Own motions

The parties did vote in favour of their own motions, which were also supported by opposition parties. The House of Representatives wants the new cabinet to have a sit-down with higher education institutions, as NSC proposed. The institutions must always have an exit interview with late dropouts amongst their students, in which they highlight the possibilities of resuming the programme. They must also provide a statement of the level and competences achieved.

It remains to be seen when the cabinet will talk to the educational institutions about this. The hundreds of millions of euros in cuts are likely to be the first subject to be discussed at the meeting table, taking priority over details such as an exit interview for late dropouts.

A VVD motion also received a majority. Pursuing excellence should be a personal freedom, it reads. The government should call on educational institutions to keep honours programmes or cum laude graduation.

Conspiracies

But a motion by MP Claudia van Zanten (BBB) failed to make it. She wanted the Inspectorate of Education to intervene in anti-Semitism in higher education and talked about an escalating situation. Even VVD and NSC couldn’t get on board with this.

Last week, Van Zanten was asked by D66 why her party would then support the appointment of a minister who voices national-socialist conspiracy theories. This concerned Marjolein Faber (PVV). “I’m not going to comment on that”, said Van Zanten, dodging the question.

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