Journalism award for publications on DUO fraud hunt

For their investigation into discrimination in the fraud hunt by student funding agency DUO, journalists from Investico, the Higher Education Press Agency, NOSop3 and daily newspaper Trouw have been awarded de Loep. Those awards for the best investigative journalism in the Netherlands and Flanders were presented in Flanders on Friday. There were three winners and an encouragement prize.

The Loep for “investigative investigative journalism” is for the articles on discrimination (in Dutch) by scholarship provider DUO. Press agency HOP initiated the investigation. The Dutch administration has since apologized.

The jury calls the publications ‘disconcerting and angering’ and speaks of a ‘well-founded, nail-biting conclusion’. Moreover, the jury praises the journalistic cooperation ‘by which all relevant target groups were reached and those responsible in politics and the administration were pushed into the defensive’.

The scandal

The basic scholarship is about two thousand euros a year higher when students move out of the house and no longer live with their parents. But DUO is afraid that students cheat and checks with home visits to see if they are indeed living away from home. Much went wrong in this process.

Due to a dubious algorithm and a blind spot for cultural differences, DUO remarkably often targeted students with a non-Western migration background. In court cases about this, 98 percent had a migration background. DUO lost 1 out of 4 cases.

Belia Heilbron and Anouk Kootstra (Investico), Bas Belleman (HOP), Sumeyye Ersoy and Salwa van der Gaag (NOSop3) and Merijn van Nuland (Trouw) were previously nominated for another important journalism prize: the Tegel in the research category.

Hein Cuppen (HOP)

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