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Dutch News
Students welcome end of lotteries for popular university courses 8/31/2014

Student unions have welcomed the government’s decision to phase out lotteries when deciding which students should be admitted to popular courses. At the moment, some of the places for in-demand subjects like medicine, dentistry and architecture are allocated to the brightest students while the rest are allocated through a lottery.‘That means more attention can be paid to motivation and other issues which are important when selecting students,’ LSVb chairman Tom Hoven told news agency ANP.However, the organisation is against the government’s plan to restrict school leavers who want to study medicine and dentistry to a single application. It also opposes the introduction of fees to take part in the selection process.Lotteries will be stopped in 2017.

More people have money troubles, ''worrying trend'' says debt register

There has been a 19,000 increase in the number of people with problems paying their bills over the past six months, according to the credit registration agency BKR. Since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, there has been a steady 3% increase in the number of people with debt problems every six months. Currently 760,000 people are listed in the BKR’s register of bad debts.The organisation describes the trend as ‘a worrying development’. Most people have run into debt because of divorce or because they have lost their job.The BKR registers loans agreed with banks and other loan providers. A loan is considered to be in arrears after two to four months, depending on the sort of credit. PovertyResearch by the national statistics office CBS and the government’s socio-cultural think-tank SCP last year shows 7.6% of the Dutch population – around 1.2 million people - are living below the poverty line.The SCP puts the poverty line at €1,040 a month for single people and €1,430 for a couple. A couple with two children is classed as poor if their gross income is less than €1,960 – or €24,000 per year.The SCP definition is based on having an income which is ‘not much but sufficient’ and includes what is considered necessary to eat, live, buy clothes and take part in social activities.

Dutch raise German road toll plan with Brussels, citing discrimination

Transport minister Melania Schultz has asked to European Commission to investigate if Germany’s plans to introduce road tolls for foreigners break EU rules. A number of experts have already said the plans, which have caused great unease in the Dutch border regions, cannot be put into practice legally. Schultz told parliament in a briefing she has already discussed the German proposals with officials in Berlin and with her counterparts in Denmark, Austria and Poland which also have borders with Germany. Charge''I will ask [European commissioner Siim] Kallas to look into whether this plan conforms with EU law,'' Schultz told parliament in a briefing.Germany plans to introduce an €88 annual charge for private cars in January 2016. German drivers will be compensated for the cost of the permit through a reduction in road tax. Dutch nationals who travel frequently to Germany will be able to buy a permit for 10 days, two months or a year but will not get compensation. This critics say, is discrimination against foreign motorists. DivisionsThe plan has also causes sharp divisions within Germany itself. The Wall Street Journal reported in July that the European Commission has warned that Germans and foreigners would have to be treated equally. ‘Changes to Germany''s existing car taxation scheme are a German responsibility,’ the paper quoted Helen Kearns, spokeswoman for the EU''s transportation commissioner, Siim Kallas, as saying. ‘They should not be directly aimed at discriminating [against] foreign drivers.’

More people are claiming welfare benefits, despite recovery signs

The number of people claiming welfare benefits continues to rise, despite improvements in the jobs market, the national statistics office CBS said on Friday. Some 434,000 people were claiming welfare at the end of June, up 8,000 on the previous quarter. Welfare (bijstand) claims usually go down some time after the jobs market begins to recover, the CBS said. People are entitled to welfare benefits once they have used up their entitlement to unemployment benefit (ww) and provided they have little in the way of assets.The government is reducing the maximum ww claim period from three to two years.




 
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