On Thursday, the Parliament of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation adopted the government's decree-programme providing for €24 million to support higher education institutions and students in the face of the health crisis.
Exceptional funding is being allocated to universities, university colleges, universities of arts (€9.3 million in total) and social promotion institutions (€2.5 million) to cover operating costs that are a direct or indirect consequence of the measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
These amounts will come in addition to the funding that was already structurally allocated for their operation, Minister of Higher Education Valérie Glatigny said in a press release.
Exceptional funding of €10 million is also being allocated to universities, university colleges and universities of applied arts to help them cope with the increase in the number of students considered "fundable."
This is a consequence of this summer's decree, which massively expanded the possibility for students to be considered as such in the academic year 2020-2021.
A second envelope of €2.285 million - identical to that allocated at the beginning of April - is also being released to support students directly affected by the health crisis via the institutions' social services.
The amounts will be distributed among the different institutions based on their number of students, and can be used to purchase computer equipment and psychological support, among other things.
New is the grant of a sum of €5,000 for institutions with up to 300 students, and €10,000 for institutions with up to 800 students. These amounts will help to ensure that smaller institutions have sufficient resources to support students.
In addition to these amounts, the universities of applied arts will receive a special one-off financial aid of €75,000, which will be divided among them.
The minister said she is not forgetting the need for the structural refinancing of higher education. She pointed out that the last budget agreed on €20 million in structural aid, "which is already an additional €85 million over the entire legislature compared to the situation in 2019."
Glatigny's ambition is to achieve a refinancing of €50 million per year, by the end of the legislature, to cope with the growing number of students and to make a success of the shift towards more digital education.
The Parliament of the Federation will meet again on Saturday to grant special powers to the government to respond to the second wave of Covid-19.
The Brussels Times