Dutch Language Blog

The Big Advantage Of Dutch Students – Only Dutch? Posted by 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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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Jordan:

    One major clarification: this is only available to international students *from the EU* (or with EU passport or other ability to receive EU benefits). International students not from the EU, such as myself, are not permitted to apply for studiefinanciering (and thus also not eligible for the discounted transport), making the cost of study in the Netherlands very, very expensive for us (I am attending UvA).

    This is a complaint I also have about most of the “international student” resources and organizations I have found. For example, the Erasmus Student Network is the only international student organization that I have found at UvA. It is geared for international students from the EU.

    Those of us not from the EU feel very left out and often ignored when it comes to joining organizations through the university or looking for help in paying for school.

    • Sten:

      @Jordan Thank you for that contribution. Still, I know the Dutch government subsidizes studying itself. Is that not the case at the UvA?

      I can only speak for Maastricht University, which I attend. We have quite a lot of international student organizations. Frankly, many people I hang out with are international, because there are so many studying what I study. So it might be that it really is more your university, and that it does not make the Netherlands as a whole expensive and not a good location for students. Ive actually heard from many that study here that they did it for the price of studying, because it was cheaper… Where are you from?

  2. Felix:

    I am German and the information you gave is not exactly right. Yes, European students can get the studiefinanciering and the OV chipkaart, but only if they work 52(!!!) hours per month. I really feel discriminated by that, because I want to concentrate on my study instead of working 13 hours per week.