There are various reasons why students might need extra support. For example, they might be living with ADHD, a chronic illness or a physical disability. Some students find themselves caring for a family member with health issues. Others are struggling to balance the demands of their studies with life as an elite athlete.
But as the National Student Survey revealed, these students are not always aware of the resources available to them. In this year’s survey, 286,000 students voiced their opinions on the quality of their education. The ECIO – the expertise centre on inclusive education - has taken a closer look at the results.
Of those who responded, 35,000 expressed a need for additional support. Yet around 35 percent of this group were unaware of special assessment provisions (such as additional exam time, more flexible deadlines or access to medical devices).
An overwhelming majority – 75 percent – had no idea that they could approach the student support fund (profileringsfonds) at their university or university of applied sciences, nor were they aware of arrangements offered by student financing body DUO in exceptional circumstances. The sums involved can be substantial. In specific cases, DUO is prepared to waive 1,300 euros of student debt
Less than half of these students are aware of the special services their institutions offer to assist them in their education, such as transport, special software, interpreters or the opportunity to rewatch lectures.
The level of awareness varies according to the needs of the student. The needs of an elite athlete clearly differ from those of a student with a disability. Almost all students with dyslexia and dyscalculia know that they can be given more exam time if necessary, while students with mental illness are far less aware of this dispensation.
The most common barriers to learning among students are ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia and mental illness. Not every student with a condition like this experiences it as an obstacle to studying, but the vast majority do. According to the survey, 85 percent experience their condition as anything from a ‘minor’ to a ‘major’ obstacle.
The survey also reveals notable differences between higher education institutions. For example, among the larger higher professional education institutions, students are most satisfied at Windesheim and least satisfied at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. These opinions cover aspects such as the level of understanding at the institution, assessment facilities, financial support and the provision of information.
Among the universities, Wageningen and Nijmegen received the most positive response, along with the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht. Students at the Open University and the University of Amsterdam were more critical of their institutions.
HOP, Bas Belleman