More first-year students

The student loan system does not appear to be keeping young people from going to university. In fact, the number of university students has never been so high.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Alain Reniers

According to university association VSNU, there are currently 264,838 students. The universities say that there have never before been so many students. The amount of registered master’s programme students increased by three per cent compared to the previous academic year, exceeding 100,000 for the first time.

The influx of first-year bachelor’s programme students has increased even more rapidly, with a 7.8 per cent rise over last year. This growth is mainly thanks to the influx of VWO students (5.2 per cent) and foreign students (27.3 per cent), VSNU states.

Loan system

The increase is striking because enrolment figures for research universities and universities of applied sciences decreased significantly in 2015. At that time, student organisations and the opposition in parliament cited the loan system as the culprit. ‘Our fear that the loan system endangers access to education has turned out to be a fact’, student union LSVb said at the time. ‘Hopefully, this discussion will end now that access is not proving to be an issue. Now, we can talk about the quality of education’, Minister of Education Bussemaker responded in the AD.

The universities area pleased with the additional students, yet cite these figures to ask the minister for more funding. VSNU says that the growth is significantly higher than the ministry has estimated in its budgeting models. ‘The universities are proud to be educating so many students. But in order to give all of them a proper education, the funding must follow suit’, VSNU chairman Karl Dittrich says.

In November, the RUG reported a rise in the total number of students.



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