Even lower middle-class students can’t make ends meet
The registration fees for higher education in Belgium are rising, there is a shortage of student housing, and gas prices are going through the roof. There is an alarming increase in the amount of students that can’t afford their studies. For that reason, the Flemish Student Union (VVS) brings out 40 recommendations to guarantee the accessibility of higher education in its paper on study costs.
Student facilities services of numerous universities report an estimated increase of 50% in applications for financial support. University colleges report a similar trend of 35% more applications. VVS advocates that the money that goes to these student facilities should increase automatically based on the amount of applications they receive.
Make student costs transparent
It’s a recurring problem that students cannot find how much they will have to spend on the necessary study materials. This includes books, ICT equipment or excursions. VVS recommends to communicate these costs in the information sheets of every course. More importantly, the offered study materials need to be revised. Lecturers should rethink the need for the study materials they advise their students to buy, as numerous handbooks never even get used after purchase.
Increase the maximum income to qualify for scholarships
Because the costs in daily life have increased due to indexation, it is only logical that the maximum income parents or students can earn to qualify for a scholarship have to increase as well. We can’t discourage students from taking an extra student job which would make them lose their scholarship. Many need this job in order to pay the bills.
Don’t save on cheap, high-quality student facilities
Mobility, libraries, student restaurants and ICT materials are increasingly dealing with budget cuts. However, these instances are crucial for students to save on daily expenses. Students that can’t find or afford student housing need trains and buses to make it to class, and budget cuts in student restaurants mean that some students might save on quality food. Investments in student facilities are necessary, as they are also investments in a future generation of well-educated students.
What is VVS?
VVS is the Flemish Student Union and represents every higher education student from Flanders. We advocate for high-quality and accessible education without discrimination. The directors of VVS are elected by the student councils of every higher education institution and therefore have the support of all students.