Only two weeks ago, D66 and CDA pressed education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven to establish emergency funds for students. The minister promised to do so, but she first wanted to know exactly which students will fall behind schedule with their studies due to the corona crisis. She said beforehand that final-year students in particular will be eligible for financial compensation, but she did not want to anticipate any further.
It didn’t go far enough, according to the opposition parties. The SP recently proposed that all students should be reimbursed for six months of tuition fees. That would render a detailed investigation into who is eligible for compensation unnecessary, and it would at the same time compensate students for the loss of their side jobs.
GroenLinks submitted a less far-reaching motion: students should be compensated only for the number of months they fall behind with their studies. The PvdA, finally, wants to limit the support to students with fewer financial recourses. These students qualify for a supplementary grant for each month they incur study delay.
The SP motion was rejected by a large majority Thursday evening, but the motion submitted by GroenLinks was rejected by a very small margin: only the four coalition parties and the PVV voted against the motion. The result of the vote on the PvdA motion was even too close to call: there were as many votes in favor of the motion as there were against it. The motion can be submitted again at a later stage.
D66 parliamentarian Paul van Meenen already said in a debate last week that he wanted to await the minister’s investigation. He thinks it’s “quite strange” to go ahead and dictate the compensation measures that need to be taken before the minister has even finished mapping out the problems. His colleagues of fellow coalition parties CDA, VVD and ChristenUnie agreed with him.
But Kirsten van den Hul, who submitted the PvdA motion, didn’t think it was that strange at all: hasn’t the right to travel been extended by three months for all students as well recently? “That decision was taken because many students understandably worry about their financial situation.”