Every year the National Institute for Family Finance Information (Nibud) studies the financial situation of higher education students. Before the corona crisis, according to Nibud, students were spending on average 47 euros a month on going out. They also liked to eat out, for 37 euros a month, and make day trips to an amusement park, sauna or zoo, for 27 euros. Coronavirus has forced hairdressers and beauty specialists to close their doors. Students were spending on average 14 euros a month on their services. On vacations, according to Nibud, an average of 83 euros a month was being spent.
Less expenditure perhaps, but also less income, both black and white. According to Nibud, for a large part of their income, students still depend on their part-time work. A student living at home, according to Nibud, has on average 641 euros a month to spend. Income from a part-time job accounts for more than half (364 euros) of this amount. A student living independently has considerably more to spend: 1116 euros. Roughly 440 euros of that is earned through work.
Loss of part-time jobs
With high-school students now not needing to take national exams, demand for tutoring is declining, an incoming-generating activity for many a student. Students with part-time work in hospitality or retail are no longer being called on; the self-employed are getting fewer assignments. Student of Biomedical Engineering and photographer Rien Boonstoppel is one of them. “The money I earn from my photography normally provides half my monthly income. The rest comes from my parents and DUO. It isn't a fixed amount, it ranges from a couple of hundred euros to a few thousand. It allows me some nice extras like getting my driver's license and buying photography equipment. It's a shame, good assignments are falling by the wayside due to corona. This month I'll be missing two student balls, a series of family photos and a wedding. You can't make a family portrait and observe social distancing.”
This sole trader has a buffer so he won't face immediate financial problems. “My life has become less expensive and I accept that right now I can't buy the new camera I had my eye on.”
Extra work as well
In some areas, by contrast, students are finding their work has increased. In her role as a digicoach working for Euflex, Esmee Jenniskens, student of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, offers support to TU/e employees when they switch to new digital systems. She is employed on a project basis. As TU/e decided to fast-track the implementation of MS Office 365 due to the corona crisis, she is now being asked, together with a team of thirteen students, to help deal with questions this is raising. “I actually have more work at the moment. In the second week I worked sixteen hours, the week before, twelve.”
Jenniskens also tutors a high-school student in two subjects, physics and chemistry. “She has exams she still needs to pass and I'm helping her with that, but she won't have to a take the exam in May, so that's reduced my work.” She earns twelve euros an hour and thinks coronavirus has reduced her hours by eight. That students can now borrow more from DUO, following a recent decision by the minister, is a good plan, she thinks, but personally she doesn't need to do so. “I'm still making ends meet.”
Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven now says students may borrow more from DUO if they get into financial difficulty. This applies to Dutch students as well as to EEA students who had a job and student financing. TU/e student counselor Patricia Veling is worried about those internationals who are not from the European Economic Area. “They have nowhere to go for help. I'm worried that they will run into financial difficulty if corona delays their studies.”
This concern strikes a chord with Salma Abdelsami, secretary of COSMOS. She hopes that everyone can absorb the financial hit. She herself relied on her part-time job. “It is tough. I am trying to stay strictly within my budget so that day in, day out I can pay my bills. I have the good fortune that I can ask my mother for help if things get out of hand. This is a luxury, I realize, that many don't have. Nonetheless, I want to carry on being independent and this weekend I resorted to selling some old clothes online for a little extra money while I stay at home."
Finally, Nibud has two tips: file a tax return because you may get some money back; and check your employment contract. Employers are also entitled to draw on the emergency fund set up by the government to pay their on-call and temporary staff. This may mean there's still a chance you can carry on receiving some of your salary.
“The corona crisis has reworked the landscape of part-time work, but for TU/e students paid jobs still exist, really they do,” says Myrna de Win, employee at Technificent, a platform where TU/e students and clients can meet each other. “Just think of student assistant positions at the university, jobs with external companies in the region, and here and there the odd job.”
A couple of mouse clicks is all it takes. Why wouldn't you have a look around a website like this?, wonders De Win. “You can make an account using a TU/e email address, then you can respond to whatever is on offer. The help clients are currently requesting can be given from home, or from an office if need be, of course that something the parties can discuss.” She can imagine that online education offers students the chance to shift their study hours around, so that doing paid work for a day or two becomes an option.