Coronavirus support: millions of euros distributed to higher education

Funding to help limit the damage of the coronavirus crisis has been distributed to higher education and research: in the next two years 284 million will go to universities of applied sciences and 83.6 million to universities; another 162 million will be given to research.

This has been set down in a government agreement concluded by the Ministry on Friday with higher education and research organisations. The funding will be drawn from the National Education Programme, an unprecedented support package of 8.5 billion euros the outgoing government has designated for the entire educational system.

This will pay for lowering statutory tuition fees by half for university students in the next academic year. How much funding was destined for student counselling, programmes that offer additional support to students and pupils, and a strategy for dealing with work placement shortages had not yet been agreed, but is now in place.

Work placement shortages

The universities of applied sciences will together be receiving 216 million euros over the next two years for work placements. A further 76 million euros have been earmarked for the universities. These amounts will help tackle the shortage of clinical placements that programmes in medicine are experiencing. Medical interns have suffered study delays of two to four months due to the coronavirus crisis.

Additionally, educational institutions are required to limit study delays and drop-out rates in teacher training programmes ‘as a result of work placement shortages’. A sum of 68.4 million has been reserved for universities of applied sciences and 7.6 million for academic education for this purpose.

The institutions can themselves decide, within certain parameters, how they will spend the millions of euros. The ministers anticipate that one institution may perhaps put more into maintaining work placements while another might want to hire extra psychologists for student counselling.

Right of approval

Governance bodies will have the right to approve the plans, the ministers emphasised. If students and staff don’t like the ideas put forward by the administration, they can thus dig in their heels.

The government will be using a number of different metrics to monitor the choices institutions make and the effects. The institutions will also be exchanging knowledge and experiences. An evaluation of the programme will follow in 2023.

Separate agreement

A separate agreement has been concluded for researchers which offers a total of 162 million euros for this year and 2022. Estimations suggest that about twenty thousand researchers with temporary contracts have experienced about a three-month delay, for example due to problems with data collection or the use of laboratories.

These researchers include those at academic hospitals, universities and universities of applied sciences, and institutes of the Dutch Research Council and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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