Trade Unions: “Student Movement Caught in Fire”

Now they have taken over the baton: Demi Jansen (Intercity Student Consultation) and Elisa Wehuizen (National Student Union). It has been two days for Wehuizen, and Jansen has already gone to Tenerife “doing nothing for a week”.

The cabinet fell

They haven’t had this much peace for a long time. “I remember last year I was trying to meet the deadline for classes when news came in that the government had fallen,” says Jansen. “Of course, my phone went off immediately because we had to start work right away: What would this mean for the students?”

They had to talk to the political parties as quickly as possible: What would they put in their election manifestos? How would they draw students’ attention to the issues? “We were suddenly thrown into a tailspin and had to prepare for a completely different political year,” says Wehuizen. “That requires some flexibility.”

For example, they supported training allowances, flexible study, student welfare and more. Jansen: “These points were adopted in many programmes. But then you see the main lines of the agreement and you are completely disappointed.”

Good long study

Because the new government wants to reintroduce the late student fine: students must pay an additional three thousand euros in tuition fees if they delay their bachelor’s or master’s degree for more than a year.

They didn’t see the late student coming. Jansen: The parties that are now in a coalition have said that they consider social security to be extremely important. And then you impose a fine that makes it difficult for informal carers or, for example, students with chronic illnesses! That doesn’t fit together.”

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“The fine has caused an earthquake among students,” Wehuizen says. “From trade unions to social clubs, everyone is very concerned.” She expects the battle will take a long time, and thinks that’s a shame. “We now have to fight defensively against these cuts and against the late fine for students, which takes a lot of time to improve education. We now have to make sure that everything doesn’t collapse in the coming years.


The LSVb immediately organised a demonstration against this late student fine, in which all kinds of organisations and unions, including university and college directors, took part.

But the ISO wasn’t there. It illustrates the difference between the ISO and the LSVb: one prefers to sit at the negotiating table, the other an activist. “We may be less likely to be at a protest, but we will still be heard very loudly,” says Jansen. The ISO and the LSVb, for example, have one with the others. fire speech The late student Al-Gharamah wrote about it.

Demi Jansen in front of the L1 camera (ISO)


The difference between the two student organizations can also be seen in their attitudes toward the pro-Palestine protests. Wehuizen: “The student movement was ignited by these anti-genocide protests. Personally, I thought it was really great that students were able to organize so quickly. We expressed our support because we saw that some institutions did not want to participate in the conversation at all and did not provide transparency. How can students form a counterforce? For us, these protests are a sign that democracy in education is not healthy.

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Jansen: “We thought it was particularly important for students to be able to have their voices heard and to have a dialogue. We find it worrying that this has not always gone well everywhere. She believes that police involvement or students feeling forced to go on hunger strike is not a good sign. “Students need to feel that their institution has heard them in a safe dialogue.”

a result

What have they accomplished? For example, they have agreed with universities and colleges on national guidelines for compensating participating students.

Jansen: “It is very important that the board takes into account the views of all students, not just those who can afford this participation year. You also need to listen to the less fortunate students.

LSVb believes these compensations are justified. “It’s just work and you have to get paid for it. As an institution, it only benefits you if the students can form a counterforce.

Wise advice

Now they are both going back to study. Wehuizen is studying sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam and will go to Singapore for five months in the final year of her bachelor’s degree. Jansen is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and sciences in Maastricht.

Do they have any sage advice for their successors? Jansen: “Realize that you are not alone. You have a team of managers and staff around you, and they are all very enthusiastic. You also get support from previous managers. And also take a break every now and then. You do a lot for the students, and you can be proud of that.”

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Wehuizen: “Rule with courage! Access to education is under pressure now more than ever. This requires leadership that speaks clearly and does not back down in the face of political opposition. Be steadfast and remember to take good care of yourself.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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