The Big Advantage Of Dutch Students – Only Dutch? Posted by Sten on Feb 26, 2014 in Culture, Dutch Vocabulary, News
Last year in June, the European Commission sued the Netherlands for its policy on the OV Chipkaart. If you wondered, OV stands for Openbaar Vervoer (Public Transportation).
The Netherlands have agreed to the Verdrag van Maastricht (The Maastricht Treaty, or Treaty on the European Union (TEU)) of 1992. In this Treaty, which is binding, the Netherlands is obliged to remove barriers to free movement and equal opportunity among EU citizens. In Article 18 of the TEU, each lidstaat (Member State) is obliged to give the same benefits and loans to international students as are given to the local students, read the Dutch students. The Netherlands can discriminate for certain reasons, but the distribution of this special student travel package is disputed. It is based on the nationaliteit (nationality) of the student – Dutch students could receive it, international students could not. Nationaliteit is not a reason that was allowed under the Verdrag van Maastricht. However, now it is possible for international students to enroll in the program as well. After enrolling for studiefinanciering (study loan, much like a scholarship from the government, also called stufi), an international student can also go for the student travel package. The only requirement for applying for stufi, is that the student is younger than 30 years, and is enrolled in a full-time study course or a dual education. If the student finishes the study course within 10 years, the student travel package is a gift. Otherwise it needs to be paid back.The Dutch government gives Dutch students a travel package, where the student can choose to either travel for free during the week or during the weekend. The former is called Weekabonnement (Week Subscription, meaning you can travel for free from Monday-Friday) and the latter is called Weekendabonnement (Weekend Subscription, for free from Friday night-Sunday). Colloquially, they are also called Week OV and Weekend OV, respectively. At any time, it is possible for a student with such a subscription to travel 40% off, and take three people also with 40% off. The idea behind this is that students that study in another city in the Netherlands can come home for free if they wish, to further bring down the burden of costs the student life brings. Now the European Commission does not like this.
I myself am a Dutch student, and thus I could receive the student travel package. It is really nice to be able to travel when I want and wherever I want. The Netherlands is not a large country, but it is very nice to still be able to come home. It is a four hour train ride from Maastricht. Here in Maastricht, I know many international students that would like to have this product too, but since the website is still only available in Dutch, it is pretty hard for them. Maybe a last point of improvement?
What do you think about this Dutch approach? How is it done in your country? Do you think such a travel package should be available to you too?
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