• 30 november
  • Talentgericht

Students with a dual career: a positive constraint that requires customisation

Dirma Eisenga, Elite Sports Coordinator
A Fontys student winning a gold medal at the Paris Olympic Games next year? It could happen. We have many of them: students with a career in elite sports (or entrepreneurship) alongside their studies. To facilitate this combination, customisation is necessary. How Fontys deals with this is the subject of the webinar 'How to guide students with a dual career' on Thursday, November 30th. Elite Sports Coordinator Dirma Eisenga says, 'The student who otherwise might not have succeeded, often does succeed now.'

Did you know that Fontys currently has 201 students with an elite sports status? For years, Fontys has been facilitating athletes to combine their studies with sports. As a result, hockey player Mink van der Weerden, footballer Daniƫlle van de Donk, and judoka Sanne van Dijke succeeded in pursuing their studies at Fontys.

Student coaches at Fontys help students with a dual career by creating flexible schedules and alternative exam times to align with matches or training camps. 'The student who otherwise might not have succeeded often does succeed now,' says Dirma Eisenga, elite sports coordinator at Fontys, who is also a student coach for elite athletes at Fontys Sports and Physical Education. Dirma herself combines her work at Fontys with sailing.

Riq de Wit combines athletics with his studies in Sports Science at Fontys Sports and Physical Education
Riq de Wit combines athletics with his studies in Sports Science at Fontys Sports and Physical Education


'I admire how students manage to combine sports with their studies. The percentage of students obtaining their propaedeutic diploma within one year (37 percent) is as high as that of non-athletes. This is likely attributed to discipline. Elite athletes are accustomed to working towards a goal. They follow through with what they start. In that sense, students with a dual career have a positive constraint.'

By the way, the term 'dual career' does not solely refer to students combining their studies with elite sports. It can also encompass students running their own businesses or those acting as caregivers. Dirma says, 'They need the same skills to manage both careers and they face similar issues. Therefore, they need support at school to pursue their studies.

Own learning process

This certainly applies to students at a university of applied sciences that has embraced talent-oriented education. In this approach, students learn to take responsibility for their own learning process. 'They often need time to adapt to this new role, which requires them to take control of their study paths and gather learning outcomes.

Course units are more substantial (15 or 30 credits), Dirma knows. 'If you can't complete them because you can not be present due to your elite sports career, it causes study delays. Additionally, students often learn within learning communities. If you cannot always be present, it requires good coordination with the student coach and fellow students. That's why customization is even more crucial now.'


At Fontys, more attention is currently drawn to how customization can be implemented for dual careers. As such, a webinar is organised on Thursday, November 30th, centered around the question 'How do I guide students with a dual career?'

During the webinar, Wolfgang Stockinger (41) addresses these types of challenges. The Austrian former professional footballer ended up at BV Veendam during his career. During that time, he combined his sports with studies at the University of Groningen. Later, he initiated a program focusing on dual careers in Austria. Dirma says, 'Wolfgang will also speak about the work-life balance. For all students with a dual career, maintaining this balance is an issue.'

Fontys is transitioning towards talent-oriented education. Supporting students with elite sports talent aligns perfectly with this approach, but it requires additional attention to ensure that student coaches can continue to provide customization for students with a dual career. That's why this webinar is being organized. 'It provides tips and guidelines. One thing is clear: we shouldn't just sit back and relax.'

Author: Erwin Blatter