Independent journalism about VU Amsterdam | Since 1953
18 July 2024

& Education

Study delay not as bad as expected during pandemic

Recent months have been tough for teachers and students, and the crisis is not yet behind us, but there is at least one positive – students have experienced only minimal delays to their studies, according to initial analyses.

In the last academic year, almost everyone thought the lockdown and the coronavirus crisis would have a huge impact on students. Lecturers took action in determined fashion and in no time they started teaching online.

And it worked, reports the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. It looked at how many study credits (ECTS) the students obtained in the last academic year. The pattern is clear: the differences with other years are minor.

All study credits

In the Master’s programmes, proportionately, the same number of students have obtained the full 60 study credits as in previous years. While in the Bachelor’s programmes, slightly more students gained all the credits.

The picture is only different among students of Medicine and Dentistry, where first- and second-year Bachelor’s students are on average one course of six study credits behind. In the Master’s programmes, the average is two courses.

But the situation is not ideal. Students are less satisfied with online teaching than with regular teaching, writes VU Amsterdam. They would rather have face-to-face classes. “Partly due to a lack of motivation, students devote less time to their studies, according to a study among VU Amsterdam students.” It is also questionable whether the standard of education is the same as before – no matter how hard lecturers try.

Similar results

All in all, the delay appears to be better than expected. According to VU Amsterdam, other ‘general’ universities are seeing similar results, and the case would appear to be the same at universities of applied sciences. At the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, study delay is not self-evident in all programmes.

Similarly, at a technical university like Eindhoven University of Technology, there do not seem to be any huge delays. The success rates in the courses are almost identical, and, in fact, are slightly higher than previous years, reports a representative. The university is still carrying out analyses of the impact on internships and graduations.

A reimbursement?

A number of politicians are calling for compensation for all students for problems caused by the pandemic, for example by reimbursing part of the tuition fees. Petitions with these demands are also in circulation.

Minister Van Engelshoven has delayed any decision; she responded that it first needs to be established if students have indeed been delayed and if they cannot catch up. Of course, specific groups of students may experience difficulties with internships or practical education, but the vast majority of them will probably not. If study delay is the criterion, few students will be eligible for additional support.


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