Potentially a Dutch first, international students at the UG’s Frisian campus are now eligible to have their travel costs between Leeuwarden and Groningen reimbursed.
Students travelling for classes and psychologist appointments (Campus Fryslân doesn’t have its own) have until now had to pay for the trip out of their own pockets. A return day ticket at current prices is 21.93 euros.
Engelien Reitsma, the campus’ manager of communication, explains that the reimbursement scheme is available to those students ‘enrolled at Campus Fryslân who are ineligible for the week OV-chipkaart as part of their study allowance.’
Since Campus Fryslân is a branch campus of the main university in Groningen, the university’s board was realistic about the travel difficulties some students based in Leeuwarden face: ‘The faculty council of Campus Fryslân raised the issue in meetings with the university board and they absolutely understand that a branch campus, sixty kilometres from Groningen, may lead to specific costs that other faculties don’t have,’ recalls Reitsma. Reitsma adds that Campus Fryslân will foot the bill for this new scheme.
Student Hannah Huber, the vice chair of the Campus’ faculty council, says that ‘Campus Fryslân students are really positive about the scheme’. ‘We know that the wider discrimination in the travel product rules can only be solved at the governmental level’, Hannah acknowledges. ‘But we are very pleased the university has recognised the challenge these costs pose to students at the branch campus.’
While she can’t be certain, Hannah says this scheme is likely a first in the Netherlands. ‘I am aware of one other university in which chartered buses are used to transport all students regardless of status for free to their campus, but know of no other schemes that target just international students.’