Fourth Rota: Not a billion for universities

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December 15 2021 | Over the next ten years, the new government will invest €5 billion in unrestricted research and development. This is not the €1 billion structure the universities were hoping for. Furthermore, the student loan system will be abolished, BSA will be distributed over two years and Open Science should become the norm.

Chamber President Vera Bergkamp with facilitators Johan Remix and Watter Koelmes presenting the new coalition agreement.

Outside new coalition agreement It turns out that a new basic scholarship will be introduced in 2024 that will enable everyone to study regardless of parental income. The new coalition therefore wants to offer a basic scholarship to all students in the academic year 2023/2024. This basic scholarship can be supplemented with a supplemental income-related scholarship. At the same time, the new government undertakes to pay attention to the applicability and applicability of this policy change. The student card for public transportation, current loan terms and investments from the student loan are left untouched.

Students who have not been able to take advantage of the basic scholarship during the years under the loan scheme are given the choice of a study debt discount or a study voucher as compensation. The new government is allocating a billion dollars to pay for it. The size of the student loan discount and how this will be arranged are not described in the agreement.

Sigrid Kaag (D66) and Wopke Hoekstra (CDA) have both expressed their happiness with the return of the basic student scholarship. “Everyone should be able to study; that’s why the basic scholarship is back. The fact that the loan system won’t go away until 2023 has to do with implementing this big change in the system,” Hoekstra said. We can do that sooner.”

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In line with the Lisbon goal

In line with the Lisbon target (investing 2.5% of GDP in research and innovation), the new government says it will invest more in free and unrestricted research and development. The government will do this through a separate fund of €5 billion that will be spent over ten years.

The new government will also continue to establish the National Growth Fund through investments in projects aimed, among other things, at research and innovation. In addition, the higher sector policy will continue. The agreement states that “public-private partnerships in knowledge and innovation remain an important part of business policy.”

As with the Rutte III government, the government also promises to increase the predictability of financing by removing the perverse incentive to increase the flow. Fixed rate financing will also be reviewed and increased and there will be a better balance between direct and indirect financing. However, the exact implementation of these intentions is still pending.

In addition, Alliance partners have expressed intent in the new Alliance Agreement to use new tools if the current set of tools proves insufficient to manage shocks in student numbers, even when attributable to the influx of international students. The new government also wants universities to jointly offer smaller studies such as Dutch language and culture in order to ensure a comprehensive and appropriate offer.

2 years ago from BSA

According to the Cabinet, there will then be more scope to handle the workload, offer perpetual contracts and maintain a balanced supply in shrinking regions. The Binding Study Advice (BSA) will also be amended, and can be read in the agreement. Since students now have to leave the programs if they do not meet the standard in the first academic year, from now on they will have two academic years to meet that standard. However, institutions are given the opportunity to send students away after one academic year if it is clear that the student is not really in the right place. Alliance Partners write that an important goal of this amendment is to increase student welfare.

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In terms of selection at the gate, the new government’s intentions are not surprising. The coalition agreement states that “programs that are selected must demonstrate how the selection procedures are proportional to the content of the program and are effective and ensure a level playing field.”

open base science

The new government wants permanent academic frameworks for scientific cooperation with non-free nations – a topic that has been discussed several times in The Hague recently. This is why the coalition partners also want to ensure that national security is not jeopardized with respect to open science, which according to the new cabinet should become the norm.

Of course, the teacher shortage will also get attention in the new coalition agreement. For example, the new government will structurally allocate 800 million euros annually to invest in good and sufficient teachers. In addition, efforts are being made to enhance the quality of teacher training courses – for example by implementing ‘little kid’ and ‘big kid’ teacher training courses, which are already being piloted.

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