The current Dutch national debt stands at over € 23,000,000,000. For context: this is about 241,948,035 months’ worth of Netflix. Beyond the latter, these examples seem somewhat as irrelevant facts for your average international student in the Netherlands. However, little do these unknowing bystanders know that brewing in the background are unprecedented events. The ever-increasing prize of a student deciding to leave home to pursue an education stands currently at € 1,200 per month. A fact even more pressing for students beyond the continent, having to pay on top of that an annual tuition of over € 8,000.
With global politics taking a hectic spin recently, education financing has been pushed elsewhere but on top off the priority list of the Dutch governmental “boodschap”. For Dutch and international students relying on national loans to cover basic living costs on top of a part time job, the less than generous “compensation” of € 1,400 designated by the governmental party coalition has left a sweet-sour aftertaste. Especially considering the average student dent of € 30,000. From this feeling of unmet justice multiple groups of students have developed into partnerships and movements for social as well as political change under banners like #NietMijnSchuld. They’re making an argument for debt-free education and fair compensation for a generation that will most harshly endure the effects of the corona crisis, the aging of a nation and climate change.
No clear-cut solution seems in sight yet. Moreover, considering the fact that with the easing of travel and social restrictions the international student population will continue its steady increase, it is imperative to promote the access to education to both national and international students in the Netherlands.
Perhaps a solution lies with a neighbour to the north, The Danish kingdom. A lost brother to the Dutch with an intertwined monarchy, also in love with ice skating and biking. The Danish system proposes a tertiary education system, exempt of tuition fees and an accessible loan system for international students, in return for a working requirement of 43 hours per month. This in comparison to the required 50+ hours per month required by the Dutch government to access loan benefits. Though shrouded in mystery and snow, the Scandinavian kingdom might hide a clue for the current situation in the lowlands.