Second degrees at Dutch universities more expensive

Second degrees at Dutch universities more expensive

Students who wish to continue on to a second degree will likely find their chosen course even more expensive in the next academic year.

Eight of the 14 research universities in the Netherlands that have published their tuition fees have added from hundreds to thousands of euros to their fees for a second degree. It most cases the amount is a few hundred euros, but for some courses the increase is significant.

The greatest increase in costs seems to be for the Master of Medicine at Erasmus University Rotterdam. This year, unsubsidised students are paying 16.000 euros for the course, which will rise to 20.000 euros next year.

The most expensive master’s degree is currently the Master of Medicine at the University of Maastricht, which is 32.000 euros per year.

No subsidy for second degrees

Although tuition fees in the Netherlands are generally subsidised by the government, since 2010 they have ceased subsidising second degrees, meaning students wishing to study for another qualification have to pay more than the current standard tuition fee of 1.906 euros.

Dutch National Student Union (LSVb) president Jorien Janssen said that while it is understandable the tuition goes up a little each year, now diligent students are being used as cash cows.

"These are young people with a degree who want to continue to learn. Now they are having to put sums on the table that you can’t earn with just a second job. And so they are slowed in their ambition. We need to encourage these people, not discourage them."

Some universities not raising fees

The only exception up to now is the Vrije Universiteit (VU). The University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) has not increased fees greatly and some have in fact decreased.

A Bachelor’s degree in psychology, law or economics for a graduate at UvA will cost much less next year, with the 9.000 euros charged for the 2013-14 academic year dropping to 5.500 euros for 2014-15.

Calculating tuition fees

A spokesman for VU said that it was decided to pass on the economies of scale of several large courses to students. How they did that, however, is difficult to explain.

"We have to make an estimate of the fees and that turned out in practice not to match the costs. Institutional tuition is still a relatively new phenomenon," he said.

This apparent randomness is precisely what disturbs Ruud Nauts, the president of Dutch student organisation ISO.

"We have been asking universities for a few years to clarify how they determine tuition fees. Universities should be required by law to disclose the way public institution tuition is constructed," he said.

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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