In a recent parliamentary debate, the minister kept her cards close to her chest. The impatient opposition wanted to know what students can expect: will their tuition fees be reduced, for instance, or will their supplementary grant be extended by a few months?

The minister wasn’t having any of it. According to her, 93 percent of all higher education is proceeding: “That’s no mean feat.” Anyone falling behind should be able to catch up again later.”

Peel back

Her intention is that as many students as possible won’t fall behind at all. In the recent debate she said she intends to ‘peel back’ groups of students, so that as few students as possible will be able to claim financial support.

The minister understands that there are some students who are suffering delays that are truly out of their control. Medical students who cannot proceed with their hospital internships, for instance. Or hospitality students who are not receiving any practical training. Her main concern: “How can we demarcate that group?”

The opposition had different priorities. It wanted to get clarity as soon as possible, for all students. Waive six month of tuition fees, for instance, proposed the SP. That would be a very general measure, but you won’t lose time selecting who is eligible and who isn’t.

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Supplementary grant

Labour party PvdA asked about the supplementary grant. Students only receive that until the end of the fourth year of study. Could that period not be extended by a few months, as was done with the student travel product?

Governing party VVD proposed the idea of letting students pay a fee per study course. That way they won’t have to pay for education they’re not taking during this time. This is a system that the economic liberals  would like to introduce anyway.

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The minister didn’t want to say more about the subject. All suggestions are considered, she said. After all, parliament requested whether the cabinet would consider supporting students who need that support and that’s not something that can be arranged overnight. “Everyone will have to be patient.”

She also felt that students shouldn’t complain too much about online surveillance during exams (called proctoring). Of course, it’s important to adhere to all privacy legislation and the data should not be sold. But if everything is going according to the rules, she feels that students should not be allowed to refuse.

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In order to prevent delays in the academic process, you need remote exams, she reasons. If students don’t like someone looking over their shoulder into their student bedroom, that’s their own responsibility. “During this time, everyone will have to accept things they don’t enjoy.”

Her own party, D66, was highly sceptical. Is it even conceivable that such software wouldn’t be breaching privacy laws? The minister maintained her position, however.