Almost everyone expected last academic year that the lockdown and coronavirus would have a tremendous impact on students. Lecturers resolutely put their shoulders to the wheel, and in no time education was available online.

And according to VU University Amsterdam, this was a success. The university examined how many study credits were obtained by students during the past academic year. The pattern is clear: there is hardly any difference compared with other years.

All study credits

In the master’s programme, the number of students obtaining the complete 60 study credits is relatively similar to previous years. In the bachelor’s degree, there are even more students achieving all study credits.

The picture is different in Medicine and Dentistry, though. First and second year bachelor’s students there are behind on average by one course of six study credits. This is two courses on average in the master’s degree.

But this doesn’t mean that the situation is ideal. Students value online education less highly than standard education, wrote the VU. They prefer in-person lessons. “Research among VU students shows that, partly due to a lack of motivation, students spend less time on their study.”  The question is also whether education is of the same quality as usual – however hard the lecturers work.

Comparable results

The delay does not, therefore, seem to be that high. According to the VU, other general universities are seeing comparable results, and there is a similar pattern in universities of applied sciences. At Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences it appears that a study delay is certainly not inevitable across all study programmes.

At technical universities, such as TU Eindhoven, it also appears that there is no substantial study delay. The pass percentages for the courses are almost the same and are even slightly higher than in previous years, a spokesperson reported. The university is still preparing analyses to examine how things are going with internships and graduations.

Too early to say

Erasmus University cannot yet say how many students have incurred a study delay during the coronavirus crisis, a spokesperson stated. These figures are not yet known.

It is already clear, however, that EUR students have used a temporary leniency scheme to prevent delay, stated the spokesperson. Students could, for instance, request an extension of the binding study advice if they did not obtain the required number of study credits in the first year due to the coronavirus crisis. There were then still able to start their second academic year in September. The university also used a relaxation of the rule, to ensure that students at the end of their bachelor’s degree did not get into difficulties and were still able to start a master’s degree. “These students have been able to prevent such a delay, but how many students this involves is not yet clear.” Figures regarding the binding study advice are only expected to appear at the end of this month.

Money back?

Politicians are voting on compensation for all students for the issues relating to the coronavirus, for instance by refunding part of the tuition fees. Petitions are also circulating to that effect.

Minister Van Engelshoven is hanging fire: she answered, first let’s see if students indeed experience a study delay and whether they can catch up. Specific groups of students can of course experience problems with internships or practical education, but for the lion’s share that probably doesn’t apply. If study delay is the criterion, only a few students would be eligible for additional support.