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“It is worth the students’ while to come to Maastricht”

“It is worth the students’ while to come to Maastricht”

Photographer:Fotograaf:

Simone Golob

Education activities as from 1 September 2020 for each faculty: on campus when possible

MAASTRICHT. On campus when possible, online if necessary. That is Maastricht University’s slogan for its education activities in the new academic year. This slogan goes hand in hand with the appeal to students: come to Maastricht. How does the slogan work in practice? How many hours a week will a student spend in the university buildings? Observant took a tour of the various faculties.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) bachelor’s programmes

  • Online: the tutorial group meetings and lectures for the four bachelor’s programmes (European Studies, Arts and Culture, Digital Society, Global Studies) of the first and second block will be online (until Christmas). 
  • On campus: contact with the mentor, skills training (for example research and writing skills) as well as the ‘community building’ activities (currently being developed by a working group, for example reading groups, informal gatherings to meet each other) will be held on campus. FASoS board member responsible for education, Jessica Mesman: “We don’t know how many hours a week students will be on campus. That will differ each week. But it will certainly be more than an odd hour and the content of the meetings will be substantial. Should the COVID-19 measures be relaxed during the first period, we will immediately adapt to that and expand our activities in the second period.” In short, Mesman feels that it is worth it for students to come to Maastricht. “We have taken elaborate safety measures; the details are on our website. We hope that by doing so we will encourage students who are not sure to change their minds.”

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) master’s programmes

  • On campus: all education activities, i.e. tutorial group meetings, lectures and skills training of all master’s programmes will be on campus. An exception is the master's in European Studies, where the tutorial groups and skills training  are online and the lectures on campus. Mesman: “That group is too large, we don't have enough tutorial rooms for the six master ES groups. The other master’s programmes are considerably smaller, so it will be possible for those. It was because of the smaller master’s groups and our limited space that we made this choice: bachelor’s education online, master’s education on campus.”
  • FASoS does not have compulsory attendance. Everybody is expected to always be present. Anyone who is not present, does not receive ‘punishment’, but ‘care’. Mesman: “We work on the basis that students have their own responsibility, after all we are a university. Those who stay away regularly, can expect an e-mail or phone call from the tutor, mentor or student advisor, depending on the seriousness of the situation, with the question: is there a problem, can we help?”

 

Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences (FPN) bachelor’s programmes

  • On campus: the tutorial group meetings, or at least some of them, will be on campus. Six to seven people are allowed in a classroom (including the tutor), the rest will join in online. “During the first meeting, which is completely online, the group can decide how they want to set this up,” said Petra Hurks, responsible for education, in the last faculty council meeting. “Will the same students come to the university each time or will they take turns?” All classrooms will be fitted with good microphones so that people who are sitting far away can be heard by the online participants. To prevent busy corridors, the tutorials will not start at the same time but fifteen minutes after one another. After every session, there will be half an hour to clean and air the room. “This means that we can have four meetings per classroom per day. In this way, we will have sufficient space for the first- and second-year students (the third-year students will take online elective blocks and work on their theses, ed.). But if we are only allowed to teach between 11:00-15:00hrs and after 20:00hrs (if students are not allowed to travel by public transport during rush hour, ed.), we will have to find spaces elsewhere.”
  • Online: the lectures, mentor talks (“maybe we will need more, experience will tell”), the elective blocks in the third year and most of the practicals. “That is possible if the learning objectives are described a little differently. Should that not be possible or allowed, we will probably offer the practicals again to those who can only come to Maastricht later.”
  • The exams, to a large extent, will take place in the Mecc. Students who are not in Maastricht will have to take the exam online at the same time. “This could mean that students who are in a different time zone may have to take the exam in the middle of the night. We will look at that, hopefully the numbers will be few.”

Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences (FPN) master’s programmes

  • On campus: the tutorial group meetings (in the same hybrid form as those of the bachelor’s) and some practicals for the first-year master’s students.
  • Online: the second-year research master’s students are mainly doing work placements; their education activities (elective subjects and practicals) will in principle all be online.

 

Faculty of Law bachelor’s and master’s programmes

  • On campus and online: the tutorial group meetings are hybrid, a mix of online and on campus. Blocks of 6 ECTS have one meeting of one hour per week on campus, blocks of 12 ECTS two times one hour per week. In those shortened tutorial group meetings there will be “no more time (…) for explaining the literature, repeating what was said in lectures etc., but students must (…) mainly work on higher cognitive skills such as application, analyses, syntheses et cetera, states the faculty protocol.
    In the tutorial group rooms (thirty in total) there is room for a maximum of 5 students and 1 lecturer. Students who cannot or do not want to be present, will participate online. If there is more enthusiasm for face-to-face meetings than the capacity allows, turns can be taken.
  •  On campus: first-year bachelor’s students will be given an extra meeting per week at the faculty as part of their ‘instruction in professional development’. In groups of five, they will work on topics such as communication, feedback, working together, and personal leadership.
  • Online: lectures will be converted into knowledge videos. Furthermore, each programme will organise a once-weekly plenary online session, for each subject, in which “interactive depth can be achieved,” according to the faculty protocol, for example through questions from students.

 

Faculty of Science and Engineering bachelor’s and master’s programmes

  • On campus: the diversity in the programmes (University College Maastricht and Venlo, Science Program, Data Science and Knowledge Engineering, Biobased Materials, Systems Biology) requires tailor-made solutions within the government guidelines and Maastricht University’s protocol, says dean Thomas Cleij. “We are working on the basis that most of the students will be in UM buildings a number of times a week, but we will also ensure that students who are not able to do so can still follow a large part of their study programme online. Depending on the programme, for example, lab or no lab, the programme will vary.”
  • Online: lectures will continue online.

 

School of Business and Economics bachelor’s and master’s programmes

  • Online: all SBE’s education activities – both lectures and tutorial group meetings – will be online until Christmas (block 1 and 2). Lectures will be recorded and put online. For each subject, there will be one digital tutorial lasting two hours every week.
  • On campus: for each course, students will have one meeting a week in groups of three to five people, at a fixed time in a classroom at the faculty. “During these sessions, students can work on various learning tasks,” says Mark Vluggen, director of education of the bachelor’s programmes. “This could be a mathematics assignment or a presentation. A ‘flying tutor’ will visit the small groups as a coach to provide guidance or to answer questions.”
  • Students are expected to come to Maastricht, but for those who really cannot come, there will be an online group assignment.

 

Faculty of Health Medicine and Life sciences (FHML), bachelor studies:

On campus: the lab practicals for the biomedical sciences students, the education at the Skillslab for the medical students and training sessions for the other students. “Every study program has submitted their desired timetable and now we have to see what we can do,” says Mirjam oude Egbrink, director of the FHML educational institute. “We work with half groups, which means that we need twice as much space and twice as many teachers. It is possible that some courses will be offered online after all, provided that this fits within the final objectives (the requirements that a graduate student must meet, Ed.) of the study.”

• The tutorial group meetings will be partly online, partly offline. “The study program coordinators determine how they do this,” says Oude Egbrink. “In a year in which the students have a lot of training, they may meet online for the tutorial group more often. This is how we search for balance, so that every student gets an attractive on-campus offer. We have asked to give preference to freshmen when it comes to offline tutorial group meetings.”

Lectures are in principle online but will sometimes be streamed live from the lecture hall, where a number of students may also be present. "For the interactive lectures."

 

Faculty of Health Medicine and Life sciences (FHML), bachelor studies:

On campus: the same applies to the master students as to the bachelor students: training courses and part of the tutorial group meetings are on campus, the rest is online.

• The internships for medical students have already started on June 15. "That is going quite well," says Oude Egbrink. “The return-to-university days are still online, but we also want to have them partly on campus in September. For example, for the skills training.”

• For the internships of other studies, agreements must be made with the companies and institutions that offer the internships. "The majority, however, is in the second half of the academic year, so we have to look at what is possible by that time," says Oude Egbrink.

Wendy Degens, Cleo Freriks, Riki Janssen, Yuri Meesen

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