Alex Tess Rutten, the chairman of the National Student Union, is worried about the financial situation of students during the Corona crisis. Since the introduction of the loan system, many young people became financially dependent on their jobs. Bas van Weegberg, the chairman of the Federation of the Dutch Trade Union Movement mentions that almost 70% of the people between 18 and 25 years works on an on-call basis. Therefore, this group is financially extra vulnerable. Many young people work in one of the most affected sectors, the catering industry. Therefore, many students don’t have to work anymore and the FNV Young & United reports that students are often (unfairly) no longer paid by their employers, while 90% of the salary for flex workers can also be reimbursed. (However, in reality it appears to be way less.) Besides, many contracts are no longer extended. This is another setback for this group. Finding a new part-time job is not easy during this period. Moreover, the labor market does not look to be very generous for graduating students. The CBS reports that the number of vacancies has already decreased by 60,000 in the first quarter of 2020. This is the sharpest drop in the number of vacancies ever recorded.
While the income of many young people has fallen dramatically, the costs for students remain almost the same: tuition fees, books, rent, insurance etcetera. It’s very likely that the lockdown will lead to even higher study debts, higher pressure and more stress, which could have negative consequences for the mental health of the students. Before the coronavirus, about 12% of young people had stress and burnout complaints, according to the CBS. This percentage is expected to increase this year. There are fewer options to relax for a long period of time. For example, the gyms are closed and all festivals and other events have been cancelled. Research by Erasmus University Rotterdam shows that students already indicate that they experience higher study pressure and more stress. A large number of students state that various factors impede studying, such as distraction by housemates.
Many students fear a study delay. Punt Avans reports that many students can’t continue their graduation research, for example because of the closure of nursing homes and theatres. Medical students can’t continue their internships as well. The situation is even more disastrous for MBO students. The shortage of internships has increased again. In comparison with last year, 56% fewer students are doing an internship at an employer. For example, there are fewer internships in the catering industry, aviation, barber shops and tourism. Even in healthcare, guidance is a problem now. Usually, MBO students continue to work for the same employer after their internship. Therefore, a higher unemployment among young people is feared now. Hannie Vlug, chairman of the board of the Cooperation Organization Vocational Education Business, wants to avoid a similar scenario as the period during and after the crisis in 2008. After that period, many shortages arose in the healthcare and the building sector. The government has indicated that it will spend extra money to maintain internships for MBO students during and after the corona crisis.
While the government has taken many measures to mitigate financial damage for many sectors and population groups, little is still announced about compensation for students who are also severely affected by the consequences of the coronavirus. The government only announced that there’s a compensation devised for students who are in the final phase of their studies and who can’t graduate now. Probably, they can retrieve three months of tuition fees. However, compensation for the current financial problems of other students has not been announced yet.
By: Kelly Veldman