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Covenant gives undocumented youth access to higher education

11 March 2022
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) signed a covenant on Thursday 10 March to start a pilot to give Dutch undocumented people the opportunity to pursue higher education. "As a university, we feel it is our duty to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to receive education and to build a society where everyone has equal opportunities, regardless of where you come from or what stamp is in your passport," said Jeroen Geurts, rector magnificus VU Amsterdam.

VU Amsterdam concluded the covenant together with the municipality of Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, Inholland University of Applied Sciences and the Amsterdam School of Arts. With these partners, VU Amsterdam believes that all children have a right to education, including children without residence status. In the Netherlands, this right stops for young people without residence status at their eighteenth birthday, even if they have completed primary and secondary school here. With the pilot 'Access to higher education for Dutch undocumented young people', VU Amsterdam, the municipality of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam higher education institutions want to change this. The pilot will start in March for the duration of two school years, until March 2024. Alderman Groot Wassink: "In my first year as an alderman, four young people who were about to turn eighteen came to visit me. They have lived in Amsterdam (almost) their entire lives, they go to school here and live an 'Amsterdam life'. But from the moment they turn eighteen, the opportunities for education and training stop. And with it, their chances at a bright future. This social exclusion has a great impact on their lives. With this covenant we are going to provide tailor-made solutions and the institutions of higher education in Amsterdam are committing themselves to providing access to higher education for undocumented Dutch students. This is important for these young people, but also for the city."

What will the educational institutions and the municipality do?
The educational institutions offer support in following education, for example when applying for and obtaining a study permit. But they also examine whether young people without residence status are eligible for other forms of education, such as contract education. The educational institutions also aim for a lower rate than the rate set for the course. 

The municipality is mapping out the possibilities of arriving at an alternative form of (study) financing for undocumented young people in Amsterdam. This will enable them to meet the necessary requirements for a study permit.

The educational institutions and the municipality jointly provide information to secondary schools. It is important that secondary schools and the young people themselves know about the possibilities for accessing higher education. Consultations are also being held with the involved institutions, such as the municipal ombudsman and the IND, to simplify the application procedure for a student residence permit for undocumented (Amsterdam) young people. This could, for example, speed up access for young people who want to train for professions which are in high demand.