Some people suffer from long-lasting health problems following a coronavirus infection. It emerges from a study conducted in Groningen and Nijmegen that this occurs after one in eight infections. These people exhibit long-term complaints such as muscle pain, respiratory problems or fatigue.
That can happen to students too. Earlier, the Dutch Student Union warned that the help given to students with Long Covid is not always adequate. How is it going now? GroenLinks asked the government. How many students are suffering from it and what consequences will they face?
The government cannot give any exact figures, according to the response from Health Minister Ernst Kuipers. This is because, for privacy reasons, the educational institutions are not permitted to ask about the illness from which students are suffering. And if they find out, they do not record it.
The Minister can, however, also on behalf of Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf, outline what help is available to these students. In consultation with the student counsellor, these students could get “additional student support or audio-visual aids so as to follow lectures”.
And financial help is available as well. Students can ask the Education Executive Agency (DUO) to extend their performance-related grant. That includes the supplementary grant and, from September, the basic student grant too. “For that purpose, they need to provide DUO with a medical certificate and a statement from their educational institution”, says Kuipers.
“In some cases these students can also use the student financial support fund or secondary vocational education student fund”, Kuipers adds. Those are funds that can help students if they find themselves in exceptional circumstances. And it applies not only to students with health problems but also to student representatives, members of the participation council and top-level athletes, for example.
In addition, students can turn to their municipality if they cannot take on a part-time job because of a health impairment: they are then entitled to the ‘study benefit’. “Whether students with Long Covid can avail themselves of the study benefit depends on the nature, severity and duration of the complaints in each individual case”, Kuipers adds.
Just like others, students can make use of ‘paramedical recovery care’ after a coronavirus infection. “The insurance covers up to 50 physiotherapy or exercise therapy sessions, 10 hours of ergotherapy and 3 hours of dietetics”, says Kuipers.
And if they quit their study programme? Then they could be eligible for young people’s incapacity benefit, if the benefits agency UWV has determined “that they are permanently unable to participate in the labour market”.