Study delay because of the coronavirus: what now?

Higher education is starting to fear the impact of the coronavirus. Who will pay if students en masse experience study delays?

(Photo: Marjolein van der Veldt)

Yesterday Ministers of Education Van Engelshoven and Slob sent a letter to a whole range of education umbrella organisations, student organisations and trade unions in relation to the coronavirus. ‘Please know that we feel for the people who have been infected by the coronavirus,’ they write, ‘we hope that they will recover quickly, and can either get back to work or resume their education.’ But they have nothing to offer at the moment. Educational institutions must come up with solutions themselves for lessons that are cancelled and must themselves choose whether to even let classes continue, say the Ministers. In the meantime, universities and universities of applied sciences are consulting the Ministry of Education about the potential consequences of the virus which could be hugely expensive. At least if the situation escalates.

There is a provisions fund for situations of force majeure

The institutions of higher education, including TU Delft, all have a special pot called the provisions fund to support students who experience delays in their studies caused by force majeure or other circumstances. TU Delft recognises situations such as illness, pregnancy, physical disabilities and ‘inadequate study programmes’. As given in the most recently available annual report, the standard disbursement fixed for these situations of force majeure at TU Delft was a little more than EUR 290 per month in 2018. A little over EUR 1 million was disbursed for these cases in that year.

The question now is what will happen if there are study delays and will the provisions fund be used. TU Delft hopes to minimise delays. Teachers are asked to think of appropriate solutions where possible for students that are unable to meet their obligations such as tutorials and laboratory courses because of the restrictions imposed to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Boards of Examiners will help find solutions for missed exams. Students are expected to inform the relevant people in advance if they are unable to take exams because of coronavirus restrictions.

HOP, Bas Belleman / Delta, Saskia Bonger

Editor in chief Saskia Bonger

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