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European Union should create a

travel discount card for

European students within
A proposal based on the situation in the Netherlands

D. van Ginhoven & E.E. de Louw

Policy Argumentation
European Studies
The Hague University

Amel Ramirez Caballero
March 25th

Executive Summary
The following policy proposal explains a possible solution for engaging in a more integrated
Europe from an educational perspective. This proposition refers specifically to a problem
from a Dutch context. In order to accomplish further integration within Europe, the European
Union (EU) should engage in the creation of a European student discount travelling card for
all its citizens valid within European borders.
In the Netherlands, local and international European students have different rates for
transportation means (train, bus, tram). On the one hand, this influences greatly some
international students because their incapability to pay for moving across the country. On the
other hand, international students feel discriminated or less advantaged in relation to fellow
Dutch students even though they all are European citizens (European Commission, 2013).
The Netherlands is a very requested country for studying (Study in Holland, 2014) where
basically, most of the activities are held in the Randstad1. This means that many activities are
developed in not only one but in the four most important cities of the Netherlands. As a
consequence, students willing to assist extra curriculum activities for improving their
experience abroad need to travel from one city to another and it could result very costly.
A solution would be a card available to students from all higher education institutions with an
optional use character. This way, the EU will promote the growth for international studying,
culture integration and improve professional skills within Europe.

1 Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

Table of Contents
Executive Summary2
Problem Statement...................................................................5
Proposed Solution.....................................................................6

Grant specifications............................................................................7
Card specifications..............................................................................7

Conclusion................................................................................ 8

Travelling in Europe represents many peoples dream and certainly, this is the dream of many
youngsters. There is no doubt that having the possibility to study in another country is indeed
a very tentatively opportunity. However, studying abroad may bring along extra costs.
Unfortunately, the global economic crisis has affected many students, specifically in matters
of transportation. According to students, being in contact with other universities makes a
better study experience (The Gallup Organisation, 2011). In the Netherlands for example,
Dutch students are able to travel for free or with discount depending the travelling plan;
either in the weekend or weekdays.
The following policy proposal is addressed to the European Union and it describes a possible
solution to tackle European students transportation issues within Europe. In this proposal it is
explained the situation in the Netherlands regarding European international students mobility
across the country. The paper is divided in different sections explaining the problem, a
possible solution and its refutation.

Problem Statement
One of the problems European students face in the Netherlands is the difficulty to travel
within the country. Essentially, this happens because of the cost it represents. Consequently, it
results to be discouraging for those who prefer to attend extra curriculum activities.
According to data, the Netherlands hosted 90,500 international students in the academic year
2012-2013 (Study in Holland, 2014). According to the Education Monitor, virtually 28,000
students from other European Union member states were enrolled in Dutch universities in
2010 (European Commission, 2012). Despite being a small country, many events are being
developed in the form of projects, festivals, and conferences to only mention a few; and are
mostly held in the Randstad.
In addition, the European Union (EU) has brought legal action against the Netherlands in
2013 stating that the discount granted to Dutch students discriminates other European student
citizens. As it is stated in the EU Treaty, European students studying in a EU member state
have definitely the same rights as locals, unless EU law excludes such benefits.
Contradictory, there are exceptions that affirm EU member states can avoid providing grants
or loans if the student does not possess a permanent residence, are workers or members of a
workers family (European Commission, 2013).
This results in being a complex situation for European students who come to the Netherlands.
To begin with, many students come for a short period of time depending the length of their
studies, mostly four to five years. This constitutes one part of this problem since most of the
students come when they begin studying and by the time they are finished most of them
return to their country of origin. On the other hand, and yet possible, a European student
could opt to qualify as resident or as a workers family member. However, this could take
more than 5 years if the student is living for that period consecutively or if the student whos

his/her non-Dutch parent or partner is working in the Netherlands for at least 56 hours per
month (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs, 2015).
Furthermore, a barrier in travelling could disrupt cultural interaction. For example, according
to a survey conducted in The Hague University, many students affirmed that a free or
discount travelling card is highly beneficial. It provides them freedom of movement across
the country for whatever reasons. More specifically, Dutch students said they could travel to
their homes, parents and visit any city of their will for leisure of academic reasons. Likewise,
international European students with same purposes see it as a barrier when travelling with
their Dutch fellows. Travelling costs duplicate the day out expenses and consequently a
limitation for travelling. For example, a study trip from The Hague to Amsterdam is
disproportionate in price when comparing Dutch with international European students.

Proposed Solution
The current economic situation in Europe has affected many students considerably.
According to students, they could have a better study experience and education if they were
able to interact with other universities and assist more events (The Gallup Organisation,
2011). This means that a comprehensive European Union bill that includes grants for
travelling expenses within countries of the EU should be passed. Additionally, such bill
should not contradict other EU or domestic policies. It is absolutely necessary that EU
students have such a facility in order to become highly skilled professionals.
Accordingly, such travel facility should be able to satisfy university locations and study
length in order to accomplish and promote the growth for international studying. It should be
implemented in all higher education institutions within the EU in cooperation among all
member states and be implemented according to the length of the study program. The grant
should constitute a discount card for 60% provided by the European Commission (EC). It
should not replace domestic grants that member states provide to their students, unless the
student is receiving locals grants. The discount card is of optional use and should be

available when there is a standard electronic travelling system in Europe. The travelling
discount card only works for transport within the country the student is residing. It does not
work as a cross-border travel discount.
According to research, it is expected that with the possibility to travel to all places, students
can profit more from their studies. Travelling is beneficial because students can improve
foreign language skills and create awareness of another cultures. Furthermore, it helps to
adapt to new situations, new professional and interpersonal skills, better possibilities for
employment and better academic knowledge (The Gallup Organisation, 2011).

Grant specifications
The grant should be taken from the budget dedicated to educational purposes. In practice, the
card should consist of an 80% discount at the moment of travel. Specifically, it should be a
60% non-repayable, as a gift from the EC if the student graduates and a 20% payable in
volunteer work after graduating. In case students do not graduate, the travelling-product will
automatically become a loan refundable in a period of 20 years when being employed. On the
other hand, the 20% payable can be addressed in two forms. The student could opt to
volunteer work for a period of two years in a location according to what the student has
studied or paid back in a period of 20 years when being employed. Volunteering is a
fundamental method in this policy because students can acquire for a period of two years
work experience and developed skills in what they previously studied. With this method,
students are receiving a significant preparation for when being employed.

Card specifications
Students will receive a smart card and will pay 20% the cost of the travel in correspondence
to the national cost. The smart card is a digital card that will be able to function in all kind of
transportations (tram, train, bus) within the country the student is residing. Students will be
able to upload money in these cards for the 20% that must be paid when travelling. The
system of the card varies depending the rules of every member.

Counterarguments are basically based in costs. A clear argument for the Netherlands against
sponsoring European students is that member states should be responsible for their own
citizens grants. The Netherlands provides its students with a loan or grant according to
family income that could become a gift if the student finishes the study, opposite to that; the
loan remains as such (DUO, 2015). This means that if the Netherlands supplies to every
European member state citizen, it will contradict its national policy and therefore create a
huge rise in national costs.
Another argument could be, even though this alternative requires payment, that there are
cheaper ways for travelling across the Netherlands. International European students could
choose for discounts cards with different rates. There is a range of possibilities one can
choose, specified in percentage and days subscription such as 40% discount in the weekends,
discounts on certain timeslots or unlimited free travelling; all based on a yearly payment from
20 to 325 euros (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, 2015).
More generally speaking, an electronic travelling system in Europe is not fully implemented.
At the moment, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland,
France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland,
Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom have such system and it varies in
functioning depending the rules in every member state (Wikipedia, 2015). Since there are six
member states that do not have this electronic system, the student travel discount could take
some years before its accomplishment.
Because students drop off studies it might increase member states national debt. Students
loans have to be repaid even though the student is not graduated. This might become a debt
that could reach decades whose income levels do not satisfy loan repayments.


A European travelling discount card for European students within Europe should be
implemented in order to accomplish and promote the growth for international studying and
culture integration. It is absolutely necessary for future European professionals to have the
ability to opt for this travel discount card for accomplishing educational goals. A discount
travel card brings the possibility for success during studying and for acquiring experience
after graduating. It also opens doors for accessing Europe and consequently the entire world.
However alternative options are available for students, the result of it will be a possible
increment in cost of students temporary stay and consequently a limitation or barrier for
academic development. The European Union should invest in its citizens for a further
developed and integrated Europe. Part of the budget dedicated for development and education
should cover the cost of this travelling student card. Member states should see this card as an
important step to take for educating and preparing its citizens.

Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs. (2015). International Student. Retrieved from DUO:
DUO. (2015). De nieuwe studiefinanciering. Retrieved from
European Commission. (2012). Education andl Training Monitor 2012. Luxemburg: Publications Office
of the European Union.
European Commission. (2013, June 20). European Commission Press Release Database. Retrieved
from European Commission:
Nederlandse Spoorwegen. (2015). Producten. (NS, Producer) Retrieved from
Study in Holland. (2014, July 21). Number of international students. Retrieved from Study in Holland:
The Gallup Organisation. (2011). Youth on the Move. Eurobarometer.
Wikipedia. (2015, February 15). List of smart cards. Retrieved from