EU students are eligible for study finance when they can be qualified as a ‘worker’, in other words: when they are economically active. DUO has always applied a very strict and narrow interpretation of this criterion. Students that work based on an internship agreement, instead of based on a ‘normal’ employment contract have never been granted study finance. Now the Dutch national court has ruled that even students that work as interns can be deemed economically active and can be entitled to study finance. 

DUO refuses to grant study finance to students working as interns

DUO claims that only students that work at least 56 hours a month and/or earn half of the ‘bijstandsnorm’ (social assistance standard) are entitled to study finance. Students that work less than these 56 hours instantly receive a rejection letter. Besides these criteria DUO also requires students to provide DUO with a standard employment contract. Students that work based on an internship agreement, will not be granted study finance.

The definition of ‘worker’ according to the European Court

The European Court has repeatedly ruled that the definition of ‘worker’ cannot be interpreted restrictively. A worker can be anyone who (i) performs work (ii) for someone else and (iii) receives some sort of remuneration. Even someone who gets paid only a small amount, or someone that is only productive for a small number of hours, can be considered a ‘worker’. The European Court also explicitly ruled that someone who is working as an intern can be deemed a ‘worker’ as long as they satisfy these three conditions.

Despite the rulings of the European Court (that are in favour of the students), DUO has still been refusing to grant study finance to students that work based on an internship agreement. Several cases tried with the Dutch national court now give more clarity.

Dutch court rules: internship can entitle student to study finance

The Dutch court is (finally) starting to follow the legal framework as set out by the European Court. Recent jurisprudence (as well as several cases that were tried by Honoré Advocaten and settled) show that as long as a student can demonstrate proof of work performed, they are entitled to study finance. It is important to be able to show that the student was not just working on assignments from school and/or shadowing real employees. A reference letter or statement from a supervisor stating what tasks were performed, what projects the student worked on and/or what their role in the organisation was, has proved to be sufficient to be entitled to study finance.

More information

Are you an EU national, studying in the Netherlands and has your application for study finance been denied by DUO? We can help you object (or appeal) the decision by DUO. Keep in mind that you only have six weeks to object (or appeal). Send us the decision and a short overview of the hours you have worked and the income you have earned (as an employee, as an intern and/or self-employed) in the relevant months, and we will provide you with free advice. If you are trying to receive study finance based on an internship, please try and secure proof of the work/tasks you performed (for example: a reference letter or statement from a supervisor). E-mail us at: vandamme@honoreadvocaten, or call: 030 214 51 50.