Brexit could dramatically increase tuition fees

Last Thursday, the RUG emailed British students to update them on their tuition fee situation following Brexit. Some recipients of the e-mail reacted with eye rolls and confusion.
By Jacob Thorburn

The RUG assures British students that as long as they started their studies before the 29th of March 2019, their statutory fees will not change during the duration of their programme. Statutory fees are dictated by government subsidies that each Dutch university receives based on the number of students that qualify for this discounted price.

It is not clear what will happen to British students who begin their studies in September. However, a representative from the Central Student Administration (CSA) says that British students could face higher fees than before.

Statutory or university fee?

For RUG students who are Dutch or from within the European Union or the European Economic Area, statutory fees for the 2018-19 year were capped at €2,060. For those from outside of these groups, or if you are undertaking a second degree, you pay a university fee that can range from €2,060 to €32,000 depending on the course you study.

These university fees are split into two categories. Currently, British students pay university fee I, which is the same as the statutory fee of €2,060. University fee II comes into effect when you do not qualify for either the statutory fee or university fee I, and is where prices can begin to rise dramatically.

If that sounds confusing to you, that’s because it is. Much like the Brexit process itself, this is a complicated topic, largely because we are all venturing into unexplored territory regarding Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

An ambiguous future

The Dutch government has already warned Brits living in the Netherlands that many post-Brexit arrangements are not final and may be subject to change. Clearly, Brexit’s effect on the cost of studying in the Netherlands for British students is still uncertain.

As of November 2018, 462 British students were reportedly studying at the RUG. In June 2016, the RUG released a statement following the result of the Brexit referendum. In the message, they made clear that they ‘expect to remain an attractive university for British students after Brexit.’

Jorien Bakker, spokeswoman for the University Board, says that it was an easy decision for the RUG to ‘protect’ and ‘reassure its [current] British students.’ However, she did warn that the future for prospective British students was ambiguous and ‘will depend on the political developments in the UK and EU.’

‘Too confusing’

British students at the RUG had varied reactions to the e-mail sent by the University. Second year student Sophie Stevenson could only roll her eyes when she read the update, which she said was just too confusing. She still has “no idea” about the effect Brexit has on her fees.

Third year medical student Cantin Gillen says he would reconsider studying at the RUG if he was no longer eligible for the subsidised statutory fee. As a medical student, his fees could reach up to €32,000 per year. He is due to start his masters in September, but is unsure whether or not the statutory fees will apply for his masters course. If not, he may be forced to pay tens of thousands of additional euros each year.



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