According to a first report drawn up at the Ministry of Education’s behest, the millions of euros allocated to Dutch higher education institutions to compensate for the impact the coronavirus restrictions have had on students will mainly be spent on intensive mentoring and improving student wellbeing.
Under the National Education Programme (NPO), an overall sum of 2.7 billion euro will be allocated to VET colleges and higher education institutions. A large share of that amount has already been spent on things such as the halving of tuition fees and a one-year extension of students’ right to use public transport free of charge.
The education institutions were asked to draw up plans for the allocation of 600 million euro in association with their representative advisory councils. Judging from those plans, in the next two years, the institutions will spend more than 40 percent of the budget they will be allocated on tackling the problem of students having fallen behind in their studies.
The universities and universities of applied sciences intend to allocate 36 and 27 percent of their respective budgets to improving student wellbeing. They will offer more personalised care to students who are experiencing mental health problems or problems of a personal nature. For instance, the Fontys group of universities of applied sciences will appoint a ‘wellbeing coach’ at each of its universities.
Universities of applied sciences intend to spend nearly a quarter of their budget on tackling the problem of students who are training to become teachers having fallen behind in their studies. Regular universities will allocate 10 percent of their budget to that, and will also allocate 11 percent of their budget to improved support for, and mentoring of, medical students who have fallen behind in their studies because they were unable to follow the foundation programme (i.e. internships).
Extra time to complete research projects
Researchers on a temporary contract who have fallen behind in their research projects will be allowed to complete their projects. A total amount of 162 million euro has been earmarked for this, to be spent over the course of two years.
According to the report, many education institutions did a good job of consulting their representative bodies on the budget allocation plans. However, student members of the representative bodies did complain that the plans had to be drawn up very quickly, and moreover, during a period when there was a great deal of turnover in the composition of both the representative bodies and programme committees.