Students in the Netherlands have been fighting the scrapping of
their study financing with great vigor. The guarantee of receiving
over €260 on a monthly basis if you do not live at home is a right
nobody is willing to give up without a fight. Another present the
Dutch government has in stock for its young talents is the OV chip
card offering free transportation during the week or weekends.
For now, the cabinet of Dutch Prime Minister Rutte has no plans
to change this study subsidy. What is more, under certain
conditions even international students may benefit from this
government support following the legislation of Wet studiefinancierung 2000. All students with
citizenship of an EU member state, Switzerland, Norway,
Liechtenstein or Iceland are entitled to receive study financing if
they work part-time next to their studies for at least 32 hours a
To some, it seems bizarre to let international students receive
these benefits in the first place given that there is no guarantee
they will stay in the country and contribute to the national
economy. To others, it is even more bizarre to push foreign
students into part-time jobs.
Study benefits to foster international
A similar schizophrenic system has existed in Australia for a
while. All students with national citizenship were entitled to free
transportation. Over time, this right was extended to international
students in all Australian states but two, namely New South Wales
The Australian government has now
pressured policymakers from these two states to follow suit and
establish transportation benefits to foreign students as well. This
would be very beneficial to project "a unified 'Brand Australia'"
into the world further fostering the country's competitiveness in
the global market for international higher education.
"We would be in a much stronger position internationally if we
could market the fact that all international students coming to
Australia were eligible to access concessional public transport
while studying here," commented the spokesperson of Australia's
Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans.
Time and time again Australia scores among the top ranks
attracting the most overseas students. Research by the prominent auditing and
consulting firm has shown that this adds around $16,5 billion
(EUROS ) to the Australian economy on a yearly basis. Pushing for
greater internationalization by offering benefits and less
bureaucratic visa requirements, Australian policymakers try to
foster its higher education sector with income from foreign
Is this the way forward for the Netherlands as well? Offering
study financing to European students was definitely in the spirit
of international treaties that require an equal treatment of Dutch
and European students. But universities cannot use this
argument to strengthen the "Brand Netherlands" as it is highly
conditional. Will the Dutch government continue this interim
solution indefinitely? Or will it chip in more money expanding
benefits to all students to attract international talent?