If you are not sure what to study, you can take an interim year programme to find out what suits you. But not everyone can pay for such a programme. That is why WUR information officer Hermien Miltenburg has set up the Interim Year fund.
Prospective students and their parents attend an open day. © Marte Hofsteenge
‘Imagine you find out after starting your degree that it’s not really for you. But you aren’t sure what you do want to do. Our study advisers are very good, but you may still need more help than what the university can offer. In that case, you can choose to take an interim-year programme.’
This is Hermien Miltenburg speaking, a WUR information officer for parents. She will be retiring in a few weeks but that doesn’t mean she plans to stop helping young people. She is a leading light at an expertise centre for the interim year concept, for example, and now she has established the Interim Year fund. ‘Inequality of opportunity is increasing again in the Netherlands. Education is supposed to reduce that inequality, but you do then need to know what you want to study.’
‘A number of academic and applied universities offer interim year programmes,’ continues Miltenburg. ‘Participants spend two or three days a week on intensive exercises to discover what degree or job would suit them. It’s good such programmes exist because 20 per cent of students at academic universities stop in their first year, and 30 per cent at universities of applied sciences. If you know what you do want next, great, but otherwise you have a problem.’
Interim-year programmes are quite expensive, says Miltenburg. ‘That is not a problem for young people with rich parents but there are also youngsters who can’t afford it. The Interim Year fund can help this group to do an interim-year programme after all. It’s for them that I set up this fund.’
To be eligible for the fund, you have to be entitled to a supplementary student grant. Whether you get such a grant depends on your circumstances, for instance your parents’ income. ‘The fund covers half the costs of an interim-year programme. You have to find the money for the other half yourself. But most programmes are two or three days a week so you can just get a part-time job,’ says Miltenburg.
The fund is currently being financed mainly by Miltenburg herself. ‘I earned some money by giving training courses for student counsellors. That’s enough to sponsor two or three prospective students. I am also a co-organizer of the Interim Year Fair on 26 March. The admission fee for that will be added to the fund.’
In the right place
Eventually, Miltenburg wants to investigate other forms of financing such as crowdfunding. ‘Perhaps DUO Education Agency might be interested. In the final analysis, everyone gains from students ending up in the right place: the students themselves, their parents and society at large. Motivated students are less likely to get behind in their studies and use up less of the subsidy for studying. They go on to become motivated, well-educated professionals. The Netherlands Inc. needs such people.’
Current and prospective students interested in an interim-year programme can contact Hermien Miltenburg (firstname.lastname@example.org). Click here for more information on the Interim Year fund.