Online lectures, initiation weeks will lead to more first-year dropouts: Student groups

This year, more first year students will drop out of their studies due to the coronavirus forcing education and initiation week events online, according to student unions LSVb and ISO. Every year universities see an average of 7 percent of first year students drop out, and higher vocational education an average of 30 percent. Those percentages will be higher this year, the unions said to AD.

The unions called on the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, to ensure that there is extra attention for the supervision of first-year students this year. It is important that they quickly get to know their way around their new school or university, the unions said. Social integration also plays an important role in ensuring new students don’t quit, Freya Chiappino of the LSVb said to the newspaper.

“It is extremely important that a freshman comes into contact with fellow students. We are very concerned that freshmen, once they have found a student room, will be isolated in their new city. It is very difficult to get to know your new city, educational institution and fellow students without physical introductory activities and lectures. Online, the barrier to meeting each other is much greater,” Chiappino said.

Last week the government imposed extra rules on initiation activities, to limit the chance of the coronavirus spreading among students. Student associations had to cancel their initiation camps and hazing events. Activities have to stop by 10:00 p.m. And no alcohol is allowed.

In practice, many universities and schools are holding their initiation weeks largely or completely online, LSVb previously said. And that is a problem, according to the union. “We believe all new students are entitled to a soft landing.”

The two unions provided tertiary education institutions with a manual containing advice for helping first-year-students find their place during the coronavirus crisis. They call for a buddy system and extra online question hours, among other things.