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National Education Programme provides welcome support to universities

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) is positive about the National Education Programme that has just been presented. Pieter Duisenberg, VSNU chair: ‘We are pleased that financial assistance is now being provided to properly support staff and students during these difficult times. The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on academic education, just like it has had a major impact across society. It is a comprehensive package, focusing on student well-being and study progress. It also gives a lot of perspective in dealing with delays that research may be running into. Other good news is that universities will quickly be receiving structural funding for the recent growth in student numbers. The extra lecturers, student counsellors and educational support staff that we can appoint with this should help prevent the existing high work pressure from increasing even further. But however ambitious and welcome this package may be, it will not solve the problem of scientific education and research being structurally underfunded. That will be the main challenge for the new government. In the short term, we sincerely hope that there will be more opportunities for face-to-face teaching activities on campus, taking the existing measures into account. Our students truly need that perspective.’ 

For universities, the National Education Programme entails:

  • compensation for the rapid growth in student numbers. Normally, funding for student numbers is subject to a two-year delay. This programme will immediately make €150 million available for quickly recruiting additional lecturers and support staff;
  • 2 x €40 million for a package aimed at student well-being and their study progress, for extra guidance and for extra ‘coronavirus jobs’, enabling student assistants to be hired;
  • 2 x €80 million to compensate delays encountered in the work of researchers with temporary appointments at universities and elsewhere, most of whom are young. 

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