Let’s start with how and why I went to The Hague today and how I got back…
Finally, after months of trials and errors and paper-work, all but what not, I have my South African study permit/temporary residence permit/5 month Visa in my pocket J
So this is WHY I got to The Hague today and by train ofc (which as always is ridiculously expensive).
Then it turns out that today is the Kennis Crisis (knowledge crisis) student protest unfolding on the Malivield ground. The biggest Dutch student protest since 1988 was unfolding on the humble streets of Den Haag. Several thousands of students gathered today from all around the Netherlands to protest against the new “crisis measures” of the Dutch Government.
Technically the new government came up with a “remarkable” way of boosting Dutch higher education. “Let’s fine the lazy students and their universities” seems to be the new government slogan. According to the new rules (already accepted in the Lower House) each student, who needs more than 1 year extra to complete his higher education studies, will have to pay 3.000 euros of penalties to the State and the university another 3.000. So if a student is unable to finish his studies in let’s say 3 years, but it actually takes him 4 years and 1 month, the State will get richer by 6.000 euros.
Now, besides this rule being one of the dumbest ones I ever came across, here are the motives of the government: each Dutch student who is also a Dutch national gets a monthly sum of 256 euros as study financing/studiefinanciering (true that, if you are an international one you have to work a minimum of 32 h a month to be classified as a Dutch worker and then you get the money as well). Some students abuse this by prolonging their education in order to get the “free” money from the state. But, if I heard correctly the money can be given only for a maximum of 4 years. And the average university needs 4 years to be finished. So I don’t understand why the government decided to implement this measure, if young students cannot get this money anyways after 4 years.
Secondly, concerning international students, most of them don’t work in the Netherlands so they are not entitled to get the “free” money. Now in a city like Maastricht, with 26.000 students, the students comprise the main revenue of the city. Approx. 15.000 of these students are not Dutch!!! – but from all around Europe and the world. An average student spends 1.000 euros a month in Maastricht on food, accommodation, tuition fees and all other things. This adds up to almost 200 million euros (now that’s a lotta money) just in a small town as Maastricht. And many other Dutch universities such as Leiden, Utrecht or Groningen have thousands of international students.
So these “student investors” are coming to a foreign country, making their university centers prosperous and leaving big amounts of money, and the Dutch government in turn want to “fine” them??? It’s like having investors in ones country and saying that they will get a fine if they underperform….Well Mr. Zeestra (yes you got some eggs and tomatoes in your face today) you don’t “bite the hand that feeds you”, says a Hungarian saying. If I would be a German mother right now, wanting to send my kid to the Netherlands to study I would rethink my choice. There are plenty of other good countries where education is even completely free, like Sweden for e.g. (and students don’t get fined)
This measure reminds me of the ones back home in Romania. Giving fines, razing taxes, driving investors out in times when the country needs money the most. And now the Dutch government might end up driving out “student investors”.
What I liked in today’s protest (even though many students used it as a day of skipping uny and drinking beer) is that students of the country spoke up for a cause, while back home people are still swallowing the shit the Romanian government feeds them. As they say “a puliszka nem robban ;)”
P.S. and I got back for free with the protesters on the bus 😉
Maastricht/The Hague, 21st January 2011