Funding of higher education


The funding portfolio revolves around the way in which Dutch higher education is financed. At the moment, the income of Dutch universities and colleges of higher education consists simply of three streams of funding. In addition to state funding (the first and largest flow of funds), universities receive funds from the NWO and KNAW for specific research projects (the second flow of funds). The third flow of funds consists of other income, such as funds from the EU or the business community. Finally, tuition fees paid by students are a source of income. Universities and colleges of higher education may charge statutory tuition fees for the courses they offer. Students outside the EEA region or students following a second study programme pay the institutional tuition fees, which are many times higher than the regular statutory tuition fees.

This assessment takes place in a comparative perspective with other related study programmes.

Students can be involved in accreditation in three different ways: they can be part of the review panel as student members, they can be questioned by the review panel, or they can contribute to the student chapter. 

Current affairs

There have been a number of important developments in the past cabinet term regarding the funding of higher education. First of all, money was freed up from the abolition of the basic grant to invest in the quality of education (quality money). In addition, funding was revised, as agreed in the Coalition Agreement of 2017. As a result of the advisory report by the van Rijn Committee ‘Switches around’, a number of changes were made to the funding system. A larger part of the funding is fixed and the student-related funding has been reduced. This is an attempt to create more stability in funding. Three cost studies were also carried out during the past cabinet period. The most important study was one into the adequacy and effectiveness of the funding system. This study showed that 1.5 billion euros is needed for higher education.

Viewpoint of the ISO

The ISO stands for future-proof higher education and appropriate education funding. Partly due to the large increase in student numbers and the general decline in funding per student, the ISO sees worrying trends developing. As a result, the Netherlands’ leading position as a knowledge country can no longer be taken for granted in the future. Now that it has been demonstrated repeatedly that major bottlenecks in funding cannot be solved by shifts within the current macro budget, it is time to make substantial investments in higher education. Particularly in academic education and research, the quality of education is under severe pressure. Students, like institutions, benefit from a funding system that offers stability and certainty, so that they can enjoy good educational quality and get the support they need.

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