Coronavirus: Belgium’s Francophone universities call for ‘urgent intervention’
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Coronavirus: Belgium’s Francophone universities call for ‘urgent intervention’

Credit: Belga

On Monday, the French-speaking Rectors’ Council called for “urgent intervention” by the French-speaking community because of the coronavirus on the functioning of universities.

The health crisis has profoundly changed the way universities operate since March, according to the rectors, which has had consequences for staff and students, but has also led to significant specific expenditure.

The six universities of the French-speaking community (ULiège, UCLouvain, ULB, UMons, UNamur and USL-B) estimate the additional expenses related to Covid-19 at €17 million in 2020.

In particular, that amount covers the generalisation of distance learning and teleworking, sanitary facilities and the outfitting of premises, increased social assistance for students and the need for administrative support.

The rectors also point to the “exceptional growth” in the number of students at the start of the new academic year, both in terms of first-time enrolments in bachelor’s degrees, and in total.

“In concrete terms, to keep funding per student constant, each percent increase in the number of students requires refinancing of €8 million,” the rectors said. “However, the figures for the new academic year indicate growth of well over 5%, which represents €40 million.”

The rectors are therefore urgently calling for an intervention by the authorities.

The Brussels Times