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Coronavirus: a €535 tuition-fee refund for those graduating late

THE NETHERLANDS. The government is allocating €200 million to support students during the current crisis. These funds will be deployed to benefit students in vocational education and training (MBO), higher professional education (HBO) and university education.

Students who graduate between September 2020 and the end of January 2021 will receive a refund on three months of tuition fees. For students at universities and universities of applied sciences, that amounts to €535.

The Ministry of Education believes that under normal circumstances many of these students would have been able to graduate sooner. But this decision will not be made on a case by case basis, meaning that any students who were already behind with their studies are in luck.

Additional student grant

The government has also looked at the position of students who receive an additional and/or basic student grant. If they lose their entitlement to this grant in July, August or September, they will be given an additional allowance. For students attending a university or university of applied sciences, this one-off payment will amount to €1,500.

Other students will have ample opportunity to make up for any lack of academic progress during the remainder of their study programme, Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven believes. She set out the government’s view during a debate in parliament two weeks ago.

The opposition had called for more money to be made available for students in difficulty. One Labour Party (PvdA) proposal – that those who currently receive an additional student grant (from first-year to final-year students) should simply receive that grant for an additional three months – won the support of half of all MPs. Only the four governing parties (VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie) voted against it, pending the plans of the minister.

Impact

The CDA and D66 had previously brought a motion calling on the government to set out the impact of the corona crisis for students, and to “support students where necessary, for example if they fall behind in their studies.”

Today’s decision is the government’s response to that motion. The government is taking this ‘blanket measure’ for a large group of students, without first finding out who has been adversely affected by the crisis and who has not. By skipping the requirement of a screening process, the measure can be implemented more quickly and easily.

Students who fall ill can apply for a grant from their own university or university of applied sciences, as the minister pointed out during the debate. To do this, they will need to apply to the profiling fund of the institution where they are studying. The same applies to students who need to provide informal care to a loved one or who find themselves in other exceptional circumstances.

No time for delay

The rules relating to these profiling funds vary significantly from one institution to another, however. Students at some universities are being advised to submit their application without delay or risk missing out.

HOP, Bas Belleman

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