The coronavirus has turned the higher education system on its head, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. It is causing all sorts of new problems for staff and students alike, which is why special hotlines are being erected left, right and centre to identify all these problems.
Due to the coronavirus crisis, many students have lost their income. They have either signed zero-hour contracts or work through temping agencies and have now lost their side jobs.
The National Student Union (LSVb) and FNV Young & United (the student branch of the largest trade union of the Netherlands) have called on students who have lost their income to share their stories through a shared hotline. More and more students are sharing their experiences. By late March, some five hundred students had contacted the hotline. By now, that number has gone up to over 1,300, says LSVb.
For its part, the Intercity Students’ Organisation (ISO) has also established a hotline where students can report the problems they are encountering because of the coronavirus crisis. So far, ISO has received over 300 reports. “Most of the students who have contacted us are concerned about falling behind in their studies”, says ISO chair Kees Gillesse.
If you are encountering problems related to your side job, you may also turn to ROOD, the political youth wing of the Dutch Socialist Party, which has established a hotline of its own, ‘appropriately’ called Mijnbaasiseenlul.nl (Mybossisadick.nl).
So far, the website has received about thirty complaints. “We’re receiving many different types of stories”, says ROOD chair Arno van der Veen. “For instance about students who are prevented from staying a metre and a half away from others, or about bosses who are breaking the rules. It’s clearly a hot topic.”
There are regional hotlines too. For instance, students in Amsterdam can turn to the hotline run by the ASVA student union. In the northern Netherlands, student organisations have established two hotlines for coronavirus-related problems: one for students attending Hanze University of Applied Sciences and another for students attending Groningen University.
Hotlines for academics
The coronavirus crisis is affecting staff as well as students. For this reason, PostdocNL has asked postdocs working at Dutch universities to share their experiences – for instance if their research project has ground to a halt due to the pandemic, but also if they are feeling lonely due to the crisis.
Last week, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in the Netherlands (AOb) called on researchers, lecturers and PhD students on temporary contracts to get in touch. Now that many research projects have been interrupted due to the coronavirus crisis, these academics may find themselves in hot water.
The AOb reports that it has so far received some eighty reports, with another ten to twenty reports being filed every day. The Association hopes that the reports will help it prepare properly for the meetings it will soon have with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU).