EU students who work less than 56 hours per month should from now on be able to receive student benefits from the Dutch Education Executive Agency (DUO) more easily.
DUO lost several lawsuits in recent years from international students who were not granted benefits, because they worked insufficient hours according to DUO.
But, lawyers tell the Dutch public news broadcaster NOS, DUO used a deterrent policy: those who could not demonstrate that they were working at least 56 hours per month were automatically denied a grant.
No standard number
As a result, many students think that they are not entitled to funding because they do not reach that number of hours. This is in spite of the fact that European legislation does not set a standard number of hours at all.
The 56 hours was invented by DUO, while the EU says that ‘performing real and actual work’ is sufficient. And this is also the point on which DUO has lost several times, according to the NOS.
‘If you work forty hours per month, you’re usually fine, if you look at the jurisprudence’, says lawyer Jillian van Damme to the broadcaster. Lawyer Patrick Folsche, who has won cases against DUO, goes a step further. He says that from 32 hours per month, he’d ‘stake his life on it’.
DUO says it will now send fewer automatic rejections and wants to look at whether individual international students are actually entitled to benefits. The agency also says that it will clarify on its website that you can also be entitled to funding if you work less than 56 hours.