“I have a part-time job in a restaurant, so you can guess what happened”, an Erasmus School of Economics student wrote in response to our survey, which was taken by 692 students. He was not the only student who had experienced the financial impact of the closure of cafés and restaurants. Many students told us they had lost their jobs in a hotel, restaurant or café, or been given fewer hours, for instance because they were on zero-hour contracts.

Scholen gesloten

Child minders and (strangely enough) homework supervisors and tutors saw their jobs cancelled or hours reduced, as well, during the crisis. “Schools were closed”, an ESHCC student explained. “So I was no longer able to tutor kids or teach language classes. In addition, nearly all our university ambassador activities were halted.” A student attending the International Institute of Social Studies experienced the same issue, but had recently resumed work: “I’m a tutor and homework supervisor at a secondary school. Initially, we couldn’t work at all, but later we were able to do our work online.” She did lose half her hours, though. “I was assigned far fewer classes because I don’t know much about STEM subjects. There was a greater demand for those.”

And although the demand for meal deliveries has increased considerably in the last few months, students who work at Thuisbezorgd or Uber Eats have not benefitted much from that fact. Several students indicated that the competition had grown explosively. “I have been working for Uber Eats. After corona, many people have joined this job and my income has decreased drastically”, said one student who has a part-time meal-delivery job.

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Academic workload

In addition, several students indicated that an increased academic workload had caused them to reduce their working hours. For instance, an ESE student wrote: “I need more time for my studies, meaning I can’t work nearly as much as I normally do. During the summer holidays, I generally work full time, but now I’ll have deferred exams all the way until the end of August, meaning I can only work one day a week.”

Several students quit their jobs of their own accord due to fear of the virus. “I don’t want to place myself at risk by going outside”, one ESSB student who used to deliver meals wrote. An ESHCC student wrote: “I decided to quit my job. I’m still afraid to resume work due to Covid-19.”

Two in five students indicated they had lost income due to the crisis. Some students are missing out on €100 per month, others as much as €1,000 per month. “300 euro, about half my salary”, one RSM student wrote. An Erasmus MC student had more luck. She normally works at a football stadium – which currently can’t offer its employees any hours because no matches are being played – but is still being paid due to the government’s NOW financial support scheme.

Helping out at the hospital

On the other end of the spectrum, nearly 20 per cent of respondents have actually worked more hours since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. This is true, for instance, for many medical students. One of those students went from ‘working at the hospital a few hours per week to providing support at the ICU fifty hours per week’. Another EMC student wrote that she joined the Regional Public Health Service (GGD)’s coronavirus support team because her foundation programme at the hospital had been shut down and no classes were taught for ten weeks.

An ESL student with increased working hours is struggling with working from home: “It’s causing me to work longer hours than I’m supposed to. Normally I go to the office for a set number of hours. If I don’t get my work done in those hours, I’ll leave it for next time. Now I’m more likely to finish the job, anyway, meaning I’m doing a lot more overtime, and I’m struggling a bit with my work/life balance.”

Changed living conditions

Due to the coronavirus crisis, many students have temporarily moved back in with their parents. A quarter of EUR students indicated in the survey that their living conditions had changed due to the coronavirus crisis. Many international students, in particular, have moved house in recent months, with 43 per cent of them indicating that their living conditions had changed. Among Dutch students, that figure was one in five.

International students who lived on campus were able to cancel their lease free of charge if they were not using their rooms in the Hatta Building or at Xior. However, not all students were able to do so. Many are stuck with a lease contract or have continued to pay their rent of their own accord. “I had to return to my country and am still paying rent in Rotterdam”, said an RSM student. “I have no idea whether to renew my lease, because most contracts have a term of one year. And I don’t want to have to pay for a room I’m not using again, now that we’ve been told that all our classes will be online until January.”

Some students have moved house for financial reasons. For instance, one ESE student found his monthly fixed expenses too high, so he moved back in with his parents.

Flatmates’ behaviour also caused some students to move out. For instance, an ESSB student temporarily moved in with his parents-in-law, who live outside Rotterdam: “The other people living in my building kept travelling to other cities, and even to other countries. That posed too great a risk for me and my loved ones.” Another ESSB student provided a similar reason: “I was renting a room from someone from a high-risk group, so I had to move out.”

Practical issues

Students’ living conditions (be it in a student flat or at their parents’) are often resulting in practical issues. “I moved in with my parents for a month and a half, because I found the loneliness in Rotterdam hard to handle when all my activities stopped,” an ESE student wrote. “Only it’s a lot harder for me to study at my parents’ place.”

One female student attending the Erasmus School of Law found focusing on her studies next to impossible: “I have a child who was not two years old at the time, and I had no child care for three months, even though things went on as usual online and I hardly had the time to attend my online seminars and keep up with my studies. I got some poor marks as a result.”

Some people are experiencing tension at home. For instance, one ESSB student allowed her sister to move in with her. “My home isn’t meant to have that many people living in it, so there is some tension every once in a while. Thankfully, my flatmates are generally understanding of the situation.”

Conversely, some students actually moved out during the coronavirus crisis. One ESHCC student shared a very small home with his mother and sister. They were spending a lot of time indoors, as well, so he had a hard time focusing on his studies. “In normal times I would always study on campus or at the Central Library.” He contacted some fellow students who had just left their rooms and so was able to rent an apartment. “I did that early in the crisis because my marks were much lower than usual. I got my lowest marks ever during that brief period.” He rented a fellow student’s home for three months. “In hindsight it was a good decision, because my marks are back to normal now. And I really want to get a cum laude degree.”

Concerns and compensation

Almost 30 per cent of students are concerned about their financial situation. Just over half of students are concerned about the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis. Furthermore, 40 per cent are worried about their job prospects. Students who are about to graduate are a lot more concerned than students who will still be at EUR after the summer: 56 per cent versus 34 per cent.

In recent months, several petitions have been drawn up to request financial compensation for the consequences of the crisis. 70 per cent of EUR students feel they should receive compensation. The most common arguments are reduced use of the university’s facilities (92 per cent), lower-quality teaching (85 per cent) and the fact that students have fallen behind in their studies (46 per cent).

About this survey

692 students took Erasmus Magazine’s survey between 25 June and 6 July. The respondents answered questions about their experiences with online education and exams, their living situation and financial situation and how they look at the coming academic year. The respondents’ male/female ratio, the faculty representation ratio and the international/Dutch student ratio were comparable to EUR’s overall student population.