The outgoing cabinet has earmarked an extra 8.5 billion euros to cushion the impact of the coronavirus crisis in the educational sector. Students will be compensated, too, but some will get more than others. You can check to find out.
It’s been a strange academic year and many students have suffered due to the coronavirus crisis, even if only because of losing a part-time job. The problem of study delays may not be so bad, but there is some doubt about whether students have learned as much as they would have in the classroom. There is a huge difference between online learning and face-to-face teaching on campus.
In order to make up for this set-back, students will be receiving a 50 percent discount on their tuition fees which total 2,168 euros for the next academic year (2021-2022). But not every student will benefit in the same way. We outline here the support measures for students. First tuition fees, then student financing.
First-year students and second-year students in teacher training programmes
We can keep this brief: nothing has changed for these students. They will only have to pay half of their tuition fees anyway. And in the government’s proposal, this isn’t going to be half of half in the next academic year.
Final year students
Will you be graduating from a university Master’s programme or a university of applied sciences programme (HBO Associate Degree, Bachelor’s or Master’s) this academic year, without going on to do further studies? Then you will be getting three months’ worth of tuition back, which is 535 euros. Minister Van Engelshoven created this support measure last year and recently extended its term. A 50 percent discount on tuition fees therefore won’t mean anything to you: this government support package only starts in 2021-2022.
Graduating university with a Bachelor’s diploma
Students who will be graduating university with a Bachelor’s diploma this academic year will not be entitled to three months of tuition refund. But if they go on to start a Master’s degree — the choice of the majority of students — they will of course only have to pay 50 percent of their tuition fees. If you take a gap year or stop studying after your Bachelor’s degree, then you won’t get anything.
Continuing studies after HBO Associate Degree or Bachelor’s
Those going on to further study after graduating with an HBO Associate Degree or Bachelor’s benefit the most from the government’s coronavirus support. They will receive the three month refund and pay only 50 percent of their tuition fees for next year.
It’s not yet clear whether students starting a bridging programme will be getting the discount. They pay the institutional tuition fee, which is not allowed to be above the legal limit for tuition fees of 2,168 euros. Institutions receive 1,084 euros compensation for each pre-Master’s student, but the Minister allows them to decide themselves “whether they will give a discount, and if so which one”.
International students from countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) who pay the statutory tuition fee will be receiving the same 50 percent discount. But students from outside the EEA who pay much higher institutional tuition fees of about ten thousand euros will not be receiving five thousand euros back, but the same 1,084 euros like all the other students.
Second Bachelor’s or Master’s
Do you already have one Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma, and you’re now studying for your second degree? Then you will be paying the institutional rate. Which means you will be in the same situation as students from outside the EEA: you’ll get a discount, but not 50 percent.
Re-training for health or education
There’s a small exception here: those who retrain in health sciences or education after doing a degree in a different field are allowed to pay the usual rate. These students will be getting a 50 percent tuition fee reduction.
Since the basic student grant was phased out in 2015, student financing in higher education only covers the additional student grant, the free public transport pass and the eligibility for student loans.
Additional student grant
If you will be losing your eligibility for an additional student grant sometime between June 2020 and August 2023, you will receive compensation of 1,500 euros. This will not formally count as an additional grant. You won’t have to pay back the money if you take longer than ten years to finish your degree. A motion to extend the ten-year term failed to get a majority in the House of Representatives.
Student public transport pass
You will get an extra year of free travel on public transport. At least, if you were enrolled in a programme in the period from March through December 2020 and if you also were entitled to a student public transport pass, loan or additional grant for at least one month during that period.
Usually, the student travel entitlement is valid for the nominal duration of your programme (e.g. four years), plus a one-year extension. This will now be a two-year extension. Obviously, only if you are still a student.
The law currently states that students are entitled to take out loans for the nominal duration of their programme, plus three years extra, through the Education Executive Agency (DUO). The government thinks that this term is generous enough, even in a coronavirus crisis.