However, she does not want to get ahead of the situation regarding the possible return of the basic student grant. “The discussion on the basic student grant is and should be part of the election campaigns, and a topic on the agenda for the new government formation talks.”
But the GroenLinks proposal to give every 18-year-old a head start with €10,000 is utterly ludicrous, according to the Minister. “Imagine you have unemployed parents struggling with high debt and then you have to explain to them that this lump sum is an investment in your future and not a way to help them out.”
Whatever the parties decide to do next with the loan system, Minister Van Engelshoven believes that the extra money needs to continue to go to higher education. “We wanted to invest in higher education and we still believe in the urgency of this matter.”
Has the disappearance of the basic student grant been problem-free? Van Engelshoven acknowledges that there were some resulting issues, most notably that fewer vocational students are making the jump to higher education. For this reason she would like to give these students a little more extra time in their first year at a university of applied sciences.
They won’t receive a grant for this period, but a little room to breathe and find out if the programme suits them will serve them well. Should they decide to drop out after all, then they will not be required to pay back their additional grant or the use of their student public transport pass. This is now only possible until 1 February. “This way we can make very specific repairs to the system.”