News | Editors
September 6, 2021 | Part of the Assembly is surprised that the Minister and the VSNU do not want to ensure that doctoral students can claim social benefits.
Foreign doctoral students in the Netherlands usually have to provide their own private health insurance, writes outgoing Minister Van Engelshoven. In addition, these doctoral students are often not entitled to allowances, which is already a source of enthusiasm for Pieter Omtzigt. According to the minister, however, she cannot change the situation of these doctoral students.
Members of the VVD, CDA and SGP of the Standing Committee on Education, Culture and Science again questioned the outgoing Minister Van Engelshoven on the so-called fictitious salary.
No right to social benefits
In case of fictitious remuneration, a doctoral student will not be employed as an employee in a university, but a doctoral student will be considered as a student who receives a scholarship for a doctoral track. These doctoral students are therefore not part of the university payroll and are therefore less able to claim all kinds of social benefits to which employees are normally entitled. In addition, there are no system-wide regulations for doctoral students that all Dutch universities must adhere to; the scholarship granted to doctoral students may therefore differ from one institution to another.
While the CDA, like a narrow parliamentary majority, was in favor of the experience with doctoral students, Pieter Omtzigt, deputy of the CDA, has already wondered about the situation of these doctoral students. He has repeatedly asked why doctoral students who are not employed by the university cannot claim childcare allowance. In the past, several doctoral students, mostly foreigners, have even had to deal with recoveries from the tax authorities; he considered that the childcare allowance paid to these doctoral students had been illegally paid. When the doctoral students concerned tried to prove their case in court, they were found at fault.
National policy too much interference with the autonomy of institutions
In previous responses to MEPs’ questions, outgoing Minister Van Engelshoven has indicated that, although she was invited to do so in a widely supported motion, she was unwilling to enter into national agreements regarding doctoral students. Van Engelshoven felt that this interfered too deeply with the autonomy of universities. In addition, there is another objection, the minister recently explained when the VVD party asked for national directives; the exact situation of doctoral students is not the same everywhere, which is why, according to the minister, the development of such a national regulation is not possible.
Foreign doctoral students are not covered by the law on long-term care
Doctoral students’ eligibility for health insurance, for example, appears to depend on their job and location, according to the outgoing minister’s responses to questions from the CDA faction. Doctoral scholarship students are not employed by the university, but they enter into a doctoral agreement with the university, she writes. “In practice, the legal situation of these categories of doctoral students depends on the relationship with the university and the way in which it is effectively implemented. Due to the lack of authority, in most cases there is no working relationship with the university. In addition, this person does not live in the Netherlands, so they are not insured for national insurance schemes on the basis of residence, including the law on long-term care. The person must then take out health insurance themselves.
Doctoral students with owner-occupied accommodation in the Netherlands have rights
Typically, doctoral students must provide their own private health insurance, the minister also said. Indeed, they do not fall under the legal system of insurance obligations, as do many Dutch doctoral students in foreign universities outside the European Union.
Doctoral students can, however, request a survey from the Social Insurance Bank (SVB) to determine whether a doctoral student can take out basic insurance because he can be considered a resident of the Netherlands. In such a test, it is examined, among other things, whether a doctoral student still has links with the country of origin. They are also asked if the doctoral student owns a house in the Netherlands.
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