Now that all lectures and seminars are being taught remotely, students no longer have to travel to their university or university of applied sciences to attend classes. They are also being discouraged from visiting their parents, meaning their public transport chip cards are gathering dust.

Card suspensions not an option

DUO, the Dutch Education Executive Agency, is receiving a lot of questions about public transport chip cards, with many students asking them whether it is possible for them to suspend their cards for the duration of the coronavirus crisis and extend the expiry date of their cards by however long they are not using their cards for now. However, students can only suspend their cards if they suspend their loan payments, too. Which is a bad idea, as many students are struggling financially due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For this reason, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has decided that students will be able to continue using their cards for a bit longer. The extension will apply to students who are doing a degree at a Dutch university or university of applied sciences and who were eligible for a government-funded public transport chip card in March. The additional months will be added to the students’ plans automatically.

Possibly extended even further

For the time being, the expiry date of students’ public transport cards will be extended by three months, but it may be further extended if the coronavirus crisis lasts longer than projected. In this way, the Ministry is seeking to help those students who will fall behind in their studies due to the coronavirus-related measures that have been implemented. After all, if students need more time to complete their degree programmes, they will have to continue travelling to their universities for longer, as well.

Students who are going to study abroad for a while are typically allowed to suspend their public transport chip cards for the duration of their stay abroad. They receive a monthly allowance of €98.72 in exchange for the right to free travel. The Ministry has chosen not to offer students this alternative solution in the current situation.