Dutch student debt soars to a record high

Dutch student debt soars to a record high

The total debt of all current and former students in the Netherlands has risen to a record high of 17,9 billion euros. 

Just five years ago, the total owed to the Dutch government was 12 billion euros according to DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs), the education portal that deals with tuition fees and funding.

Student debt in the Netherlands

More than one in five graduates that have to pay off their student loans are in arrears. Two-thirds of those do not respond to reminder letters and approximately 76.000 have to deal with bailiffs as a consequence.

Additionally, DUO claims that more than 32.000 students who they provided loans to, are currently untraceable costing the state 88 million euros.  

The Intercity Student Consultation (ISO) blame the former Education Minister Ronald Plasterk who increased the fees to bring in 100 million euros, yet, instead of that money going back into higher education, it disappeared.

Student loan tracker

In response, the ISO has launched an online student loan tracker on March 8, called the National Study Debt Meter.

The tracker shows the total student debt increasing per second. Jan Sinnige, chairman of the organisation predicts the debt will increase by an average of 55 euros per second next year.

Three necessary measures

According to the ISO, measures must be taken to get the debt under control. 

These include freezing tuition fees at higher education institutions, making course information more transparent so that students know what they are signing up to, in addition to informing students beforehand of their job opportunities.

Finally, the state should invest the money that would have gone towards basic grants (now abolished) back into the higher education sector rather than other education sectors. 

According to Chairman Jan Sinnige of the ISO, "Students need to know exactly what a program looks like and what their chances are of employment. There is nothing more expensive than making a wrong choice. The student throws away thousands of euros. That's precisely why information is critical."

Kiri Scully


Kiri Scully

Raised a global citizen, to an Irish father and American mother, Kiri has lived and worked in five countries over three continents. Fuelled by culture curiosity at an early age,...

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