These students are going to protest tomorrow

Students who missed out on the basic grant feel shortchanged by the government. The sum of 1 billion euros earmarked by the government as compensation is the equivalent of roughly one thousand euros per student. Far from enough, loan system students say. That is why they will hold a demonstration in Amsterdam tomorrow to protest against the compensation measure. Cursor spoke to three TU/e students who plan to join tomorrow’s demonstration.

photo SP / Flickr CC
Noortje Geijs (22), first-year master’s student Electrical Engineering

“I’ve never demonstrated against anything before, this will be my first time. I decided to go because this affects me personally. I’m in my fifth academic year and I’ve accumulated quite a serious debt. A compensation of one thousand euros isn’t nearly enough, I feel. If I had decided to enroll a few years earlier or later, I would have gotten a sum that translates into fourteen thousand euros.

I think that it’s fundamentally wrong for the government to saddle an entire generation of students with enormous debts. We won’t be able to buy a house in the future, and it will take us years to pay off our debts. Nor will we be able to benefit from the money that became available when the basic grant was abolished. I want to make it clear to the government that I don’t agree with this.

My younger brother and I will take the train to Amsterdam Saturday. He is still in high school, but it’s a point of principle for him and he will join me to support me. I’m a bit anxious though, especially since a number of demonstrations in Amsterdam ended in riots last year. I know people in Amsterdam and I’ve arranged a place for us where we can go to should things get out of hand.

None of my friends and no one I know from my study program will demonstrate, as far as I know. I was a bit surprised by that. This will have a negative impact on all of us, so why wouldn’t you go? I hope that the museum square will be crowded tomorrow, that will make for quite a statement against the government.”

Viktor van ’t Klooster (24), ) second-year master’s student Architecture Building and Planning

“I’m a board member of the CDJA and I will attend tomorrow’s demonstration with at least fifty members of our youth organization. We’ve spent seven years fighting to get the basic grant back and that moment has finally arrived. We were very happy about that, naturally. But then the announcement was made that the government would only reserve a limited sum of one billion euros to compensate loan system students. This will create a lost generation, and we can’t let that happen.

Personally, I think that the compensation should be brought in line with new students. We should be entitled to an amount that is the equivalent of what students with a basic grant receive. I also think that it is wrong that all kinds of promises were made regarding the fact that our debts wouldn’t affect our ability to get a mortgage. Those promises turned out to be false.

I have a high debt; I’ve been studying since 2015. The loan system was introduced when I was in my final year of high school. I remember thinking, ‘o, there goes my student financing.’ Now, I hardly dare to look at the exact amount of my study debt.

Let’s be honest: the loan system was one big experiment and it failed. Now, it’s time for us as young people to come together and stand strong. Fortunately, the youth organizations of other parties feel the same way, and we support each other. We were seriously disadvantaged during the COVID-19 crisis and we had to give up a lot. Now the time has come to show solidarity with our generation.

We will bring banners tomorrow, but I don’t know what these will say exactly. I’m usually quite good at coming up with slogans, but I’ve been too busy lately. I’ll think about it after my Architectural Theory exam.”

Rien Boonstoppel (24), second-year master’s student Biomedical Engineering

“Someone at Ichthus, my association, came with the idea to go to the demonstration and I decided to join. We will go with a group of ten people. When the news about the coalition agreement was announced, everyone felt that it was quite idiotic. A thousand euros per student, that’s one big joke.

It was unfortunate that the basic grant was abolished just when I started with my studies, but I was sure that I wanted to go to university. I also wanted to live on my own, so I rented an apartment and knocked on DUO’s door for a loan. I would have gotten 20,000 euros if the basic grant hadn’t been abolished. It would be nice if I could get that sum back as compensation, but I feel that they should at the very least compensate us for the nominal study duration on a basic grant level. That amounts to six thousand euros. That’s based on something at least, and you can explain it. But you can’t just give us a thousand euros, that doesn’t make any sense.

I’m not that worried about my financial situation though, because I’ll manage to find a well-paid job eventually. Many students at TU/e have a sober attitude for similar reasons, I believe. However, I’ve almost completed my studies, and I am starting to worry about whether or not I’ll be able to get a mortgage. It makes me angry that they first said that your debt wouldn’t play a role when applying for a mortgage and that they now say something different. They should keep their promise.

I haven’t really thought about the demonstration yet. The organization expects a high turnout, I believe. I hope that things don’t get ugly. You never know. I would like to send a clear signal to the government. Many students are impacted by the situation, I hope that they will finally get the message Saturday.”

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