Dutch students pleading for return to normal next academic year
Student organizations and educational institutions alike find that they have not been given enough priority during the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions. Both groups said they are hoping to be able to experience a normal school year again from September, which would largely depend on the government ending social distancing rules, ANP reported.
“If choices have to be made in September as to what is and is not possible, higher education should not be an afterthought again,” said the chair of the Interurban Student Consultation, Dahran Çoban. "It should not be the case that I am soon able to go to Lowlands, but still not to university every day."
The very little space the Cabinet has given higher education was “not always fully utilized," said Lyle Muns, the chair of the LSVB student union.He said many students have been going back to their study program one day a week since the end of April, but that does not apply to everyone.
“Universities are bound by the 1.5-meter distance and have to set priorities. Consider, for example, practicalities: it is difficult for a chemistry student to conduct experiments in their room. So considerations have to be made about this,” a representative for the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) told ANP.
With the vaccine rollout progressing faster than any time in the past four months, many are hoping to see a large majority of sectors and industries fully reopened in the upcoming months. However, according to Çoban, the ISC chair, that still remains uncertain in the field of education.
Minister of Education Ingrid van Engelshoven previously speculated that the rules regarding maximum sizes of groups in educational institutions would most likely continue to apply into the beginning of next academic year. However, the Cabinet has taken a wait-and-see approach towards the eventual end of lockdown restrictions.
"The feasibility of the scenarios remains dependent on the epidemiological picture and the measures that follow from it," she said.
The cabinet indicated they wanted to get advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) regarding the next reopening steps in higher education by July at the latest.