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How does Covid-19 impact student life? Minister van Engelshoven visited the UT

On the 28th of March, the Dutch Minister of Education visited to UT to talk with students about the current Covid-19 pandemic. The event was called 'Get it off your chest', and was meant to unveal the feelings and struggles students are currently facing during times of Covid-19. Different student representatives and executive board members of the UT and Saxion got the chance to speak with the Minister. In the Bastille three different rounds were held in which a variety of topics were discussed.

STAYING CONNECTED WITH OTHERS

Student life has changed, we are currently meeting each other online. This has a drastic impact in our social lives and in some cases also our mental wellbeing. In the beginning of this college year, it was sometimes possible to meet in small groups again. But this soon came to an end, as the lockdown was integrated once again in our society. Floor van Maarschalkerwaart tells: "Students are done with the online activities, it is not the same as meeting each other in a physical manner. Normally we would meet so many different persons at the University and the campus, yet also in the city during the evenings." It is important to look at the options that are currently possible, like sporting with your friends again on the campus of the UT.

MENTAL WELLBEING

Mirjam Bult, representative of the UT, also pointed out the fact that "it is a big obstacle for students to look for mental help. A first step would be to talk for example with your friends and family. A bigger and the most difficult step is to actually go to a psychologist." The UT and Saxion are doing everything they can to support students with their wellbeing in these online times. 

Van Engelshoven emphasizes: "A lot of students are struggling internally with their feelings and think that they are maybe overreacting. But one of the most important things to consider here is that we need to motivate students to stay in contact with one another and talk to each other. Give your best friend a call, talk to your parents, siblings and housemates. Also look for extra help at your doctor if this is needed." 

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

At this moment, it is important for students to get into contact with one another more, and gain more clarity of what is possible in regards to the Covid-19 regulations. The Dutch Cabinet is looking into different prospects, short-term solutions are for example Covid fast-tests. Pilot tests are being held to see if lecture halls can be filled with students again. At the same time we have to be careful witth these opportunities, says Dirk Koelewijn: "Students might get to comfortable with for example self-tests, and become less cautious. This might result in meeting up with too many people who can infect one another." A good balance of integrating self-tests and fast-tests needs to be found.  

In the long-term, the Cabinet and both the UT hope to return to more physical lectures again, as this Summer it is expected that most of the Dutch population will be vaccinated. Also the Kick-In should not be forgotten, as this is one of the most important weeks for starting students. Hopefully the introduction week can be organized completely physical again. 

CURIOUS ABOUT THE REST OF THE CONVERSATION?

Watch the complete livestream over here!