Student numbers recovering

The number of students enrolling in higher education has returned to the level it was at before the introduction of the loans system, outgoing education minister Bussemaker has told the Lower House.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

When the loans system was first announced, the number of students enrolling in research universities and universities of applied sciences rose sharply. But after its implementation in September 2015, that number took a dive again. But now that the number of bachelor students has increased by seven percent, the number of first-year students is back to its previous level.

‘That is good news’, says Bussemaker. In 2015, the number of enrolments at research universities and universities of applied sciences decreased dramatically. At the RUG, 361 fewer students than the previous year started their studies. Student organisations and the opposition in the Lower House blamed the loans system for this. But Bussemaker insisted that the so-called bow wave effect – spurred on by the looming loans system, young people decided to move on to university straight away rather than take a gap year first – the student numbers would eventually be restored. It appears she was right.

Turbulent times

The outgoing minister is happy with the development. ‘After the turbulent times of the systems change, the traditional patterns of enrolment are returning. I expect this to continue over the coming years’, she writes. She does, however, warn the House it is too early to determine the long-term effects of the loans system.

Bussemaker remarks that the implementation of the loans system has mainly had positive effects. Students spend more time on their studies than in previous years. Students also quit less often, and switch programmes less often. In addition, students are more often satisfied with their education programmes.

Ending the basic grant has not led to more students having a job in addition to their studies.


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