WUR received 5.3 million euros from the National Education Programme (Dutch acronym NPO) to alleviate the impact of the corona crisis on research. The greater part of these funds will go towards extending the contracts of PhD students and postdocs. WUR will also make some of its own funds available to support PhD students with grants who have fallen back.
WUR has already received a little under one million euros from the Ministry of Education to cushion the impact of the 2020 lockdown. This money was applied towards extending the contracts of PhDs and postdocs who were to be terminated in 2021. These funds are added to this previous subsidy and will be used to extend PhD and postdoc contracts that were set to expire in 2021 and 2022. Another round of funding is expected early in 2022 for those whose contracts expire in 2023. They will be given an extension of up to six months. Moreover, WUR will provide further extension up to six months for the first group -that received a three-month extension- where needed.
Some PhD students have incurred a greater delay, for example, because they were doing research abroad or because their research depended on greenhouse experiments on plants that bloom only in the spring. They, too, will receive a six-month extension. All extensions are based on the 2020 lockdown and not on delays that occurred later, says Janneke van Seters, head of the PhD Office. ‘We are only permitted to compensate delays resulting from that lockdown with this budget.’
The vast majority of the corona-millions are put toward extending contracts, but Van Seters identifies two additional problems for which support is required. Many PhD students and postdocs have been unable to develop a research network due to the lack of congresses and exchanges and suffer from loneliness and stress. WUR aims to provide support for these issues as well. A workgroup that includes researchers has submitted proposals for how the NPO funds are to be spent. The WUR Council was also closely involved in the plans.