Student welfare manager Door van der Sloot tells me this. ‘The waiting time to see a student psychologist is now three weeks and getting longer. So we are temporarily taking on an extra psychologist.’ At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there wasn’t much demand for support from students. ‘We actually found it quiet,’ says Van der Sloot. ‘But that’s not the case anymore.’
There is always a rise in demand in September. Van der Sloot: ‘I don’t have any hard figures about the increase in problems due to the coronavirus. Most students don’t give it as the reason for their difficulties. But the coronavirus is an additional factor that makes problems worse. For students who tend to procrastinate, for instance, and who had just found a good balance in their studies. When the routine of attending lectures on campus disappears, it’s more up to them to create a routine for themselves. And they find that very hard.’
Lack of a clear structure
The coronavirus also plays a role in the kinds of problems students report, says Van der Sloot. ‘More students are having trouble with loneliness, motivation problems and the lack of a clear structure.’ To help students, the university offers training courses like ‘How to stay motivated when studying at home’ and modules such as ‘Coping with loneliness’ and ‘Life in times of Covid-19’. In November, Joke Marinissen of the Writing Lab and student psychologist Anneke Aikema will launch ‘Peer Coach’, a new project in which trained students help their fellow students with planning, structure and other academic study skills.
More information about the training courses and the Peer Coach project can be found on www.wur.eu/sts