The discount was decided on in April, and it was based on an agreement that was made in collaboration with all Dutch universities, says an EUR spokesperson. The approximately 550 students eligible for this arrangement have received a detailed message through Osiris on 2 June. Students must determine, in consultation with their study programme, whether the delay is due to corona and how much time they need to complete the remaining credits. “Our expectation is that most of these students will still be able to graduate this academic year, in which case they won’t need the discount.”

There are several petitions from EUR students doing the rounds on social media, in which they are asking for a discount on tuition fees. One of these has been signed nearly eight hundred times; it pleads for financial compensation for non-EU students who are paying the institutional fee. Those students are now being partly compensated by the university. In another petition, over a thousand signatories are requesting that the cost difference between online and physical education is refunded to all EUR students.

Raised eyebrows

On 15 May the cabinet announced that all master students (including those paying the ‘standard’ tuition fees) graduating between September 2020 and January 2021 will get a refund equal to three months of tuition fees. That amounts to a total of 535 euros. Whether that graduation delay was due to the coronavirus will not be checked.

535 euros is a relatively low amount for students paying the institutional fee. After all, they are not paying the statutory tuition fees — currently 2083 euros per annum — but the institutional fee. That can easily amount to10,000 euros or more. EUR’s institutional fee differs per faculty and is between 6700 and 22,600 euros for the upcoming academic year. These rates apply to students from outside the European Economic Area or students pursuing a second master degree.

Erasmus University’s decision raised eyebrows at the University of Groningen, particularly with board member Hans Biemans. In an interview with the University of Groningen’s newspaper Universiteitskrant he states: “As a university, you are required by law to charge non-EU students the cost price. There can be no cross-subsidisation of public funds. That’s not a decision we can make ourselves.”

'No state funding'

The spokesperson of Erasmus University emphasises that the decision was made in agreement with the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). “And we are not receiving any state funding for these students, which is why the institution sets the rate and we were therefore able to make this decision. Furthermore, EUR is not the only university compensating students. In Delft and Eindhoven, arrangements have also been made for this group of students,” according to the spokesperson.

After the summer break, the University of Twente will allow non-EEA students to continue their studies for an additional 5 months at the statutory rate, writes university paper U-Today. Delft University of Technology will give these students another 3 months to complete their degree with the same discount. The same goes for Eindhoven University of Technology, even though students will need to go to the examining board for individual advice.