After lowering the bar for staying on after the first year and making it easier to cancel student debt, Education minister Dijkgraaf plans to go even further in compensating the ‘unlucky generation’ of students.
Leaving home, living on your own, getting used to university life and studying — it’s not easy being a student. The current generation had to cope with the Covid pandemic on top of that. ‘Research shows students’ mental wellbeing is under pressure,’ says Dijkgraaf. ‘Fortunately I have been able to free up enough funding in our ministry to help this group in innovative ways.’
One of the new measures concerns the activities students missed out on during the pandemic. Dijkgraaf: ‘All the pubs were closed so students had fewer opportunities for a night out on the town, which is an important part of student life — essential in developing social skills, for example.
Students will get a free crate of beer with every tube of scabies cream
To compensate, the Dutch government will fund a daily Happy Hour to encourage students to go to the pub more often.’
Another negative effect of the pandemic is the spread of scabies. The scabies mite is thriving in student houses in particular. ‘We heard scabies cream rubbing parties are being held all over the country,’ says Dijkgraaf. ‘We are keen to encourage this trend. That is why students will get a free crate of beer with every tube of scabies cream.’
The minister has other ideas as well for helping out students. ‘We are drafting a bill that will force all student accommodation providers to install a bath in every student house. A survey showed students get very stressed and a hot bath has been shown to effectively relieve stress.’ All students will also get a new bike, although they will have to pick it up in person in The Hague. And if the bike breaks? ‘My civil servants will come and repair it for you,’ promises Dijkgraaf. The details of these plans still need to be worked out.
The minister rejects criticisms that his policy is too soft and is encouraging students to evade responsibility and pass the buck. ‘Once the basic grant gets reintroduced and students see the monthly amount appear in their bank accounts, you can be sure they won’t be passing the buck, euro or any other currency.’