Dutch government allowing higher fees for honour programmes

Dutch government allowing higher fees for honour programmes

The Dutch government is introducing an experiment next year where some higher education institutions in the Netherlands can charge increased fees for an honours programme.

Minister for Education Jet Bussemaker said that some students require a more intensive programme because they are not sufficiently challenged in regular education.

She said the government is keen to meet that need, but they don’t want universities taking money from regular courses in order to fund excellence tracks.

Therefore, the government is allowing some institutions to experiment with increased tuition fees, up to twice the statutory rate (1.960 euros in 2014-2015).

Student will be able to apply for tuition credit, and institutions must ensure that they have a good dispensation scheme, which students can rely on if the increased tuition imposes a disproportionate burden on them.

MBO education problems

While offering higher education programmes scope to charge more, Bussemaker also focused on institutions offering MBO or vocational training programmes.

Specifically, those institutions offering courses for which there is relatively no demand in the labour market.

Cabinet approved the Minister’s proposals to require MBO institutions to offer training adjusted to the needs of business and in severe cases even to close courses for which there is no demand from employers.

According to Bussemaker, too many vocational schools are still taking more students than is demanded by the labour market, which is leaving young people at risk of unemployment.

Misleading course information

This comes at the same time the student union De Landelijke Studenten Vakbond (LSVb) claimed that information brochures from universities and hogescholen are giving students less than honest information about their courses.

The LSVB examined material from 11 universities and 26 hogescholen to discover that almost no mention is made of whether courses apply binden studieadvies (BSA).

A BSA is a decision of the institution on a student’s progress, which students receive at the end of their first year. If the report is negative, meaning they have not met the requirements of their course, students must stop their study.

From May, courses were obliged to provide objective, comparable information about their courses, but according to LSVb, many students have already registered by then.

This union is supported in this by MPs Peter Duisenberg (VVD) and Mohamed Mohandis (PvdA).

"Students need to know what their labour market prospects are or what their starting salary might be when choosing a study," said Duisenberg. "Fully informing students is not an informality, it is a moral obligation."

"I don’t want glossies that attract students," says Mohandis, "but rather clear information on issues such as the number of contact hours and BSAs, so that every talent knows right from the start of his or her education what he or she should expect and can therefore fully meet his or her obligations."

Sources: Government of the Netherlands, Volkskrant


Alexandra Gowling


Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in Asia before coming to the Netherlands a year ago. She enjoys writing, reading...

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