What the new FONDS regulation means for students
Students whose progress is delayed because, for example, they have responsibilities as board members, provide informal care or have become ill can ask the university for financial assistance. Starting in the new academic year, the regulation pertaining to this, the FONDS regulation, will undergo major changes.
#1 Fewer rules, more tailor-made solutions
‘This is the most important,’ said Fatbardha Selmani, chair of the University Student Council. ‘Currently, only the applying conditions are decisive when determining whether or not you will receive a grant: if you don’t fall into the right category, you aren’t eligible. A fifth-year student who is still working on their bachelor’s is not eligible for assistance even though there might be very good reasons for the delay. Under the new regulation, this student might be eligible for a grant.’
‘Or consider the regulation that states that you have to have received at least 39 credits in the year prior to taking on responsibilities as a board member,’ said Jesse Claessen, a member of the Student Council on behalf of the study associations. ‘This sort of regulation will no longer be effective. Instead, the student’s personal situation will be taken into consideration.’
#2 Less control
In the present situation every student board member is checked to see whether or not they meet the conditions for qualifying for a grant. That will change. ‘Only those students who take on the most exacting responsibilities as board members, like the head of a large association, will have to draw up a personal plan that will be checked,’ Claessen said. ‘That way, they can be better supervised during their course of studies and find a balance between studying and managing.’ Funding will be unconditionally granted to those who are in office for 8 months or less. This eliminates a lot of administration and bother.
#3 Informal care provider will receive help
Students who play sports or an instrument or are otherwise culturally active at a high level already had the possibility of receiving compensation for their activities. Informal care providers will be added to this group as of the next academic year. Are you caring for a parent who is ill and have thus fallen behind in your studies? As of next year you can request financial assistance.
The FONDS regulation was written by the University Student Council and the Student Affairs Office of Radboud University. The Executive Board has adopted the regulation and submitted it to the participational bodies for their consent. This will probably not lead to any problems since the Student Council is very positive about the result. The regulation will be reviewed every two years and submitted to the Student Council.
#4 Longer entitlement to a grant in special circumstances
Currently students who are already behind in their studies cannot request a grant. ‘Crazy, really,’ said Fatbardha Selmani. ‘It’s exactly those students who, for example, have problems at home and whose study progress has been delayed. So the period in which students can request financial help because of special circumstances has been extended from four years to five years. ‘We hope that the university will extend this period by even another year in the future,’ said Selmani.
#5 Three years of assistance for non-EU students
The Serbian student Lena Crkvenjakov is using a grant from Radboud University that is for students outside of the European Economic Area (the EU plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland). That grant is only available the first year, so she will be facing financial problems next year. The university has decided to award fewer grants as of September but then to award these for the entire Bachelor’s period. This will prevent situations like Lena’s from reoccurring – even though she herself will not benefit from this.
‘Even if you don’t qualify for financial assistance, apply anyhow,’ said Selmani. ‘The regulation contains a hardship clause so that every student can appeal if they think that they should be able to apply for a grant.’ This clause has made the university’s policy more flexible. ‘With good argumentation, you may still get a grant.’
The regulation in figures
In 2017, 751 students were given a grant for their responsibilities as board members (including members of the Participational Body). 75 students were given financial assistance to compensate for a force majeure or special circumstances. Together, these groups received about 900,000 euros. The FONDS regulation is also used to enhance students’ international mobility. About half a million euros were granted to non-EEA students studying in Nijmegen, and 565 students from Nijmegen together received 400,000 euros to study abroad.