UT students join compensation protest: ‘Must be fairer’

The new government wants to get rid of the lending system. The core grant is expected to return starting September 2023, although it is not yet known exactly in what form. One billion euros is earmarked for the ‘compensation’ of students who have skipped the basic scholarship since 2015. They can choose between a student loan discount or a study voucher, which amounts to around three thousand euros per student.

According to the students of the “unfortunate generation”, it is too little. “It’s a shockingly low amount,” says Maarten Verboom, a civil engineering student at UT who started studying in 2018. “The billion doesn’t exceed the debt that many students have accumulated due to the loan system.” This is confirmed by Max de Vries, master’s student of Water Engineering & Management at UT, who began his studies in 2016. “The current compensation is a swag for bleeding.”

That is why they will participate in the compensation protest on the Museumplein in Amsterdam next Saturday. According to De Vries, the “generation of the loan system” has lagged behind. ‘I don’t really like to protest, but that’s a big deal. Student debt weighs heavily on student well-being. We have thirty-five years to pay. Our chances in the housing market are also slim, as student debt is often taken into consideration by banks, contrary to previous promises. A generation is lost like this. ‘

(Photos: Maarten Verboom and Max de Vries)


One in four university students of the ‘unfortunate generation’ has accumulated over 40,000 euros in debt. De Vries (twenty thousand euros) and Verboom (‘almost no debt’) are still doing well in this respect. They both work together on their studies. “With a core grant, this may not have been necessary,” Verboom says. “Then I could have gotten even better study results.”

The money released from the abolition of the basic grant would be fully invested in the quality of education, was the promise of the Rutte II cabinet. According to De Vries, it will take several years for investments in education to actually pay off. “We graduated some time ago. Our generation only brought money. Why should I invest in this country later, if this country doesn’t invest in me? ‘

De Vries and Verboom therefore ask for fair compensation. They still don’t know how it should be. “But a coupon is definitely not a good alternative,” says De Vries. “I would like to see more in a basic retroactive grant.” This will cost a lot of money, Verboom knows. “I also understand that the government cannot write off the entire student debt. But don’t call it compensation. In any case, it should be fairer. ‘

Clear signal

The compensation protest will take place on February 5th at 13:00 in Museumplein in Amsterdam. De Vries and Verboom try to bring together as many UT staff as possible through a group of apps. “I expect a great turnout,” says De Vries. “This sends a clear signal to The Hague.” Both emphasize that they want to protest peacefully. “I hope for a nice and pleasant day,” says Verboom. “If there is a riot, we leave.”

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