A flawless education system for students

How long do you want to spend (or have you spent) in the college?

Grrr… Let’s see. 4 years normally? or 3 years in UK? 1 or 2 years for a Master study program?

Well, recently I met a smart fella in a random social event. He is still a student in the Netherlands in his late 20s. His answer was: 8 years or maybe more. To my surprise, he was actually bragging and quite comfortable in talking about his prolonged student life in the Netherlands and trying to explain why he was glad about it.

Here goes the story. This dude, Mr.V, comes from a well-off family in some other EU country, never really had any worries in his childhood, but study was never his strength. He referred to his graduation for the 4-year Bachelor degree in his home university in his own country as a total “miracle”. He barely made it through his dissertation defense and countless re-re-re-exams. And what was ever more miraculous was that he got into the Erasmus exchange program and went to a university in the Netherlands for his Master’s Degree.

“Of course I came to the Netherlands for party and weed”, said he with rapture, “one year of pure adventure and lots of fun and then I go back”.

That was his original plan. But now 3 years later, he’s still here in the Netherlands.

Evidently I skipped the stories of the stoic repetition of re-re-re-re-exams, but that didn’t really matter. At least he is happy with his stasis in the land of windmills and tulips.

“I tell you man, why should I ever leave the Dutch university?”


“I am working as a part-time in the local hotel two hours every day. Because of that, I could get a total student subsidy of 800 Euro per month from the Dutch government, plus my working money, I get like 1500 Euro a month just being a student in the Netherlands, why should I ever bother going back home or start looking for a real job?”


There it goes. So this fellow somehow proved that he has to take the part-time job beside his study in the Netherlands, successfully applied for the student subsidy from the Dutch government, working 2 hours a day as a janitor, BOOOM~ he earns more money than lots of fellas who are struggling after the graduation just being a “student”. He got no problems of parties, travelling, or anything he could obtain for just being a student in the Netherlands, albeit being even a non-Dutch student (except for passing the exams and finishing the school). As far as I know, he just booked his ticket to Ibiza for the summer…

What a wonderful system! As an individual being, I would LOVE to be like him. For my school days were always stressful and competitive. I had to struggle my best to graduate as fast as possible and achieve as high grade as possible so that I could make sure my parents’ investment on my education was worth every penny they paid for. Never really heard of the term “re-exam”, let alone the concept of getting paid for partying as a student as long as you want!! Darn only if I were born in Europe…. Who want to have a job anyway, I would stay as a student for as long as I want! Government pays! The generous Dutch government decided to handsomely reward those who want to stay in the university, as long as you are an EU citizen. Readers, go applying schools in the Netherlands immediately if you are an EU citizen!

You will be well fed with generous tax money and watered with beers and wine. Great study plan, isn’t it? Except there’s one point missing…….What’s the point of keeping those students for NOT studying?

I bet this dude is no single case in Holland. And I am definitely not the only one who realized who absurd the system is, either. Recalling several months ago, Dutch government finally decided to do something with it. A budget cut, mainly to reduce the monetary subsidy for the students in higher education, and unsurprisingly, met with fierce resistance and protest from massive student unions all over the Netherlands. The new law basically says that if you stay longer than the required time length of a study program (roughly like 3years for a Master’s progam, for example, still too generous in my opinion), you will be no longer eligible for governmental student subsidy and the tuition will jump to a realistic figure from the heavily-subsidized 1000euro per year (and yet students are bitching about 1000Euro a year for school -> That is less than one month earning of merely being student for that guy).  Looks like there are lots of students in the Netherlands not happy about the cut-off of their nutrient tubes from the tax money. that leaves me to think, what kind of young people this system would produce in the end? Not to mention the waste of tax money in the ticket to Ibiza…

Luckily the Dutch government was strong enough to enforce the budget cut, but it’s far from enough. Mr.V could still happily live every after, at least in 2 years, he wouldn’t have to worry about neither a real job nor a real “pass”.

Alas, what on earth was happening that turned the once prestigious and elegant university education system that produces social elites, philosophers, and scientists, into a wonderland for hippies, slackers, and party animals that don’t really study in the great Europe? This is even below the mediocrity that educational system experiences in Northern America and elsewhere. I have to be a cynical prick on this one…





  1. That’s the ironic part of it- there are several students in the California Higher Education System struggling to even scramble money to support themselves so they can graduate- but here’s a country that has it figure it out somehow.

    If I had a chance to work less hours while I’m going to school, it wouldn’t be too party, it would be so I can take more classes that I wish I could take, and so I can learn the content in those classes better! But of course no everyone feels this way, and of course it will never happen anyway.


  2. To MTO:
    That is truly ironic. The good education system abused by spoiled kids and people who really wanna study get stuck in financial burdens. I wish you the best.

    I, myself, was not exception. But the funny thing is that under that highly competitive education system I have lost my thirst for knowledge and just went with the flow and exams, and only until after school that I finally picked up books and wanted to read and learn more once again.

    1. I feel you (about competition). It gets so ridiculous because even though I may really want to take a class, I may think about it twice because it may hurt my GPA. This is not the way school ought to be. We’re not progressing as far as education goes.


      1. true. even if you could just audit those interesting classes, I doubt you are willing to spend time on those subjects while stressing about the grades in the mandatory curriculum.

        The best solution -> Get rich first and then study whatever you wanna study. 🙂

  3. Right on on my country’s education system. Why didn’t I think about going to a Dutch university then… It just pisses me off seeing how the money is wasted in such cases in the Netherlands.

  4. You are so bad informed about that Dutch system and that guy is just lying:

    1. You only get some money (€266,-) + free public transport traveling (worth €89,-) per month for the duration of your master program (so 1 or 2 years).
    2. The rest of the money (till a total of €800,-) is a loan you can get from the government, but you have to pay all that money back + the interest rate (so this will just cost him a lot of money).
    3. After the 1 or 2 years, you do not get the money of 1. any more, but you are still able to loan the money described at 2. for some extra years.
    4. If you do not get any degree at all, you also have to pay back the €266,- + €89,- per month from 1. + interest rate over that money as well.
    5. It’s not roughly 3 years, it is just 1 or 2 years (just the nominal time) + 1 extra year, after that the fine is €3000,- per extra year (and the university gets the same fine).
    6. You have to realize the level of education at a Dutch university is a lot higher than it is on an average American university, because in Holland you can only go to university if you did the VWO secondary school (which is only available for the best students out there). (Therefore grades are less important in Holland than they are in America, because you already have about 8 different levels of secondary school in Holland (and VWO is the top level), so even if you are an moderate VWO student, you would be an A+ student in America. But if you get high marks in Holland, you just go to a higher level. And at VWO it is near impossible to score the highest marks, because you only get them for absolute perfection. For example: even native English speakers will not be able to score the highest mark for in English in Holland, because you just will not reach absolute perfection.)
    7. As an American you can not get any money of the Dutch government + you have to pay almost 5 times the normal fee for college.

    1. “You are so bad informed about that Dutch system and that guy is just lying”

      I think I am pretty well-informed about Dutch education system, that guy was probably omitting the fact about the loan.
      I know all the facts you mentioned. You are absolutely correct (though the duration of gov’t subsidy lasts 4 years for a 2-year master program), except that I was telling this guy comes from another EU country with the Erasmus program. I doubt if he is ever gonna pass the VWO to enter the university he is now if he receives education in NL from the start. What you don’t know is that the entry level of Dutch university for foreigners, especially for EU citizens, are dirty cheap and almost open to everyone who applies. As much as Dutch students might excel in studies, I don’t think other students, esp foreign students have unanimously high quality. Some do, a lot does not. And exactly because the grading is not so important in Dutch universities, they would be easily get the 6 out of 10 and live with it. However, EU citizens apparently are also included in the Dutch education welfare system. They pay the same amount as Dutch, which is 1600 Euro per year, plus they could apply for the same subsidy and governmental loan, not to mention they could work part-time without a work permit and get a OV card to use public transportation for free on weekends. That is indeed a big mockery on higher education system in the Netherlands.

      P.S. As a guy with personal experience in Dutch education system, I could tell you, the local students ain’t as smart as you think… And I see too many just sitting around the university and chilling for ages. I seriously hope this new education budget could kick their asses hard enough to stress them out for life.

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