‘Internationals aren’t a money-making opportunity’
Tuition for non-EU students has almost doubled in some cases
If you’re not from the EU or the European Economic Area and you want to do a master’s degree at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) this autumn, you’ll have to dig deep into your pockets: you’ll be paying 18,500 euros in tuition fees. In 2011, master students at FSE ‘only’ paid 9,600 euros, which means the current fees increased by 93 percent. A bachelor’s degree now costs 57 percent more: up from 9,400 euros to 14,800 euros.
At other faculties – excluding the medical faculty, which has kept its fee at 32,000 euros for years – you’ll pay 45 percent more in fees if you’re doing a bachelor as opposed to ten years ago – 6,900 to 10,000 euros – and 66 to 81 percent more for a master, according to UG data.
Statutory tuition fee
In comparison, the statutory tuition fee for EU students who haven’t yet received their master’s degree has gone from 1,713 to 2,168 euros in that period, an increase of less than 27 percent.
Every year, the Dutch government determines the tuition fees for EU students. EU students are subsidised; they don’t pay the actual cost of their education. If you’re not from the EU, it’s different: educational institutes can decide for themselves what your tuition will be. The UG decides on an amount after consultation with the university council.
Can’t be helped
According to spokesperson Riepko Buikema with the UG, the increase of the institutional fees can’t be helped. ‘The Dutch government has charged universities to make sure tuition fees for non-EU students cover the cost of their education’, he says. ‘The UG has been implementing the increase in steps. The cost-effective fee will be reached in the academic year 2021-2022.’
As of 2022-2023, both the statutory fee and the institutional fee will be indexed by the same percentage annually, Buikema explains.
The Vrije Student faction in the university council stands with the university, says chair David Jan Meijer. If the money from non-EU students would no longer cover the rising costs of their education, Dutch taxpayers would be responsible for compensating them, he explains.
But DAG and Lijst Calimero are critical. ‘Seeing the rise in student numbers and that the university is not hiring as many teachers to match that, I do not see how costs could have increased this much’, says Ivi Kussmaul, faction chair for DAG.
How do you calculate the cost of one non-EU student? According to Buikema, it can’t be done. ‘The differences between studies are too big’, he says. ‘An arts student doesn’t cost the same as a medical student.’
The cost-effective fee is calculated based on the total number of students, the tuition fees, and the total contribution from the government, Buikema explains. ‘Compared to other universities, our fees have not changed significantly over the past two years. We remain in the mid-range.’
Nevertheless, Lijst Calimero isn’t ready to give up just yet. ‘I already raised the matter of the fast increase in fees earlier, and the board will speak to the ministry of Education and VSNU to see whether there are more universities with this problem’, says faction chair Rozemarijn Gierkink.
‘International students shouldn’t be seen as a money-making machine for the university’, says Kussmaul. ‘All students should pay the same, or an amount based on their financial situation. And, ideally, we want education to ultimately be free for everyone.’