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In November 2010, Dutch ministers announced that they wanted to increase tuition fees by EUR 3 000 to 5 000 for students who take longer than the recommended number of years to complete their degree. This would also apply to students who have spent part of their degree course abroad. At the moment, students can claim a grant for four years but the government is planning to reduce this to three. In December, following student and staff protests, Parliament changed the proposed legislation proposal to allow science students, students at universities of applied science that want to study for a master’s degree, and health care and education students doing a bachelor and a master degree, to receive a government grant for two extra years of study. This would prevent these categories of students from facing a tuition increase. The government is looking into ways to enact these changes so that they become valid in September 2011.
Meanwhile, according to other government proposals, Dutch universities and colleges will face a EUR 3 000 cut in government funding per student if their students are too slow to complete their studies. This proposal has led to fears among higher education institutions that they would be forced to let go of thousands of teaching staff as a result of the reduced funding.
In reaction to these developments, the three organisations representing Dutch students are planning to demonstrate in mid-January 2011 against the proposed fee increases. Students fear that they won’t be able to afford a master’s degree and argue that the proposed cuts are not in line with the government’s stated wish to improve the quality of higher education. Not-so-merry news for the holidays in The Netherlands.