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Liveblog: UM and the corona crisis

Liveblog: UM and the corona crisis Liveblog: UM and the corona crisis

Photographer:Fotograaf:

Simone Golob

MON 14 SEP

New infections in Maastricht and other student cities

Last Friday the counter stood at 46 positively tested UM students; part of this group is no longer contagious. The virus is also spreading in other student cities. The number of infections with Covid-19 among students is increasing not only in Tilburg and Wageningen, but also in Delft and Groningen. Just like in Nijmegen, where three student cafes have now closed. At the beginning of this month, mayor Bruls closed the first student café. Since then, more than 50 visitors have tested positive for the virus and 230 had to be quarantined.

TUE 8 SEP

- Study rooms in Mecc for exams

During the so-called XXL weeks, the three weeks around the exams at the end of October in which the University Library and other study places at the university are open longer than normal, UM will rent rooms in the Mecc where students can study. FHML director Winnie Bosch announced this during the Faculty Council. In this way, the university wants to compensate for the library's limited capacity due to corona.

MA 7 SEP

- UM: seven million to absorb corona bottlenecks

More teaching assistants and extra university teachers, but also money for the appointment of corona stewards (who draw the attention of students and staff to the half-meter distance rule, among other things), a health counselor, extra study advisers, and more resources for scientific research.

Maastricht University is investing approximately 7 million euros to better cope with bottlenecks caused by the corona pandemic. Faculties and service centers could themselves indicate where that money should go. Expanding educational capacity is number one.

- 38 UM students tested positive

According to the GGD, 38 UM students have now tested positive for COVID-19. Part of this group is no longer contagious.


FRI 4 SEP

- Belgium gives Limburg code orange

Limburg has received code orange from the Belgian government, Non-essential trips to Maastricht, among other places, are not recommend. But neccessary trips, to work or to the tutorial group, are possible. Belgian citizens who stay in Dutch Limburg for more than 48 hours must complete a health declaration before returning to Belgium.

WED 2 SEP

- Lecture on the stairs

UCM students are not allowed to congregate in groups of more than five people inside the building. Prof. Maarten Doorman came up with a creative solution to be able to give his lecture 'Enlightenment and romanticism' in person. He moved the 'lecture hall' to the stairs between St. Jan and St. Servatius, with the Purgatory in the background. "Every now and then a tourist would join for some free education." Photo: Jacqueline Graff

MON 31 AUG

- No additional financial aid for students

The cabinet will continue to support the economy for another nine months. But students with temporary jobs are left out in the new aid package that the cabinet announced on Friday. Ailing companies can receive financial support for their wage costs until mid-2021. As of October, the support is 80 percent of all salaries, 70 percent from January and 60 percent from April. This involves 5.4 billion euros. That is good news for students with a permanent job. But many students are flex workers. The package does not help that group. The scheme for flex workers was closed on 27 July and will not be continued.

FRI 28 AUG

-11 students UM tested positive

Maastricht University is dealing with an increasing number of corona infections. The counter now stands at eleven students who tested positive for Covid-19, says interim spokesman Fons Elbersen, who has been informed about this by the GGD (public health agency). The cause could be sought in student houses where the rules have not always been observed.
 

WED 26 AUG

- More students welcome UL

The University Library is increasing the number of available study places again. When the UL in the city center carefully opened its doors after the lockdown, there was room for 75 students a day. That number has now multiplied. Since last Monday, five hundred people have been welcome; 150 of them are for people who walk in spontaneously and the other 350 must be reserved.
The UL in Randwyck will open again next Monday with four hundred places (250 reservable). The first hours can also be made in the other UL locations from next Monday. There are a total of 286 study places in the sports center, the computer landscape in Randwyck and on Tapijn.

A complete overview and a reservation button can be found at www.umlib.nl/hours.

TUE 25 AUG

-Infected with Covid-19
Two students who participated in the Inkom, digital and "on campus", tested positive for Covid-19. The GGD is conducting a source and contact investigation.
 

MON 24 AUG

- 'Isolation rooms' Guesthouse empty

At the moment six foreign students are voluntarily quarantined in the Guesthouse on Annadal. They've arrived from an orange or red area. Nobody has any complaints or has tested positive for corona, says Roel van der Nat, manager of the Guesthouse. The 'isolation corridor' is empty. Keep on reading.

- No more fraud in online exams

This year, students did not cheat en masse when they had to take exams at home on their laptop, says Minister Van Engelshoven. At least, they didn't cheat more often than usual.

THU 20 AUG

- Testing location is moving

The GGD Zuid Limburg wants to move the temporary corona testing facility in a parking garage of the MECC to the Demertdwarsstraat in Heer, a former football accommodation. Target date is the second week of September.

- No infections in first batch of tested students

Of the 100 students who were tested for corona in the parking garage in the MECC on Monday, no one was infected, says Christian Hoebe, head of infectious disease control at the GGD Zuid Limburg and professor at Maastricht University.

TUE 18 AUG

- Student associations get green light for face-to-face events after all

Student associations will be allowed to host introduction events for prospective members after all. After some initial hesitation, the Dutch government conceded to pressure from the House of Representatives.

- Testing location opened

The GGD (local health authority) Zuid Limburg’s new testing facility in the MECC’s multi-storey car park on the Paul-Henri Spaaklaan has been opened. It's the second site in Zuid Limburg, in addition to the drive-through facility in Urmond. Everyone showing symptoms that might indicate COVID-19, such as coughing and a fever, is welcome. Students from an orange or red high-risk area are advised to drop in anyway, even if they have no symptoms. Monday, more than a hundred students came by. Today, approximately half that number. Photo: Joey Roberts

TUE 11 AUG

- Very few physical meetings at Inkom

In consultation with Maastricht University and the student associations, the Working Group Inkom has scrapped almost all physical meetings from the program. Only the information market on Monday and activities organized by third parties, such as the City Walk and the Movie Night, will take place. The participants are not allowed to go there with their mentor group, but they must register individually.

THU 6 AUG

- Inkom further restricted

The Dutch government has decided that the student introduction weeks may continue, but with further restrictions. The entire introduction must take place online as much as possible, physical meetings are only possible if it concerns informational matters, hazing of student associations is prohibited, meetings of sports and study associations must take place in small groups, keeping 1.5 meter distance, without alcohol and until the latest 10:00 PM. Last but not least, the entire program must have the permission of the university's Executive Board and the chairman of the security region committee.

FR 3 JULY

-Exchange programs continue

UM has decided to continue the exchange programs in the autumn semester 2020 (start date September - October). There are, however, conditions. For example, the country of destination must have a color code green or yellow (travel advice from the Dutch government). The partner institution must also confirm that the student can be physically present. Exchanges to partner institutions within the EU are expected to be often possible. The number of exchanges to countries outside the EU may be limited.
The final decision will be made on August 1. More information (scroll to 'outgoing exchange students')


THU 25 JUNE

- As of today more than 400 study places available again

The number of study places in the university library in the city center has increased from one hundred to 350 today. Students still have to reserve a time slot via the website, says University Library Director Ingrid Wijk. "And where students now choose from one of three short time slots, there will be two longer ones from July first, both of which can be reserved at once." There will also be a number of study places in the computer area in Randwyck, 41 to be precise. Finally, fifteen spots have been created at the School of Business and Economics. Students can make reservations for the latter two locations via the Education Online website.

 

WED 24 JUNE

- Students are allowed to travel during rush hour again after the summer

Students will travel again during rush hour on 1 September, so the class times can be extended. The cabinet will announce the relaxation tonight. Since 15 June, lessons and practicals can now start and end between 11 am and 3 pm, or only after 8 pm. Students' travel rights are not limited, but if education doesn't start until 11am, most won't get on the train or bus at 8:30 am, the idea is.

FRI 19 JUNE

Tuition fee reduction for delayed non-EU students

Students from outside the EU who are delayed by the corona crisis and therefore unable to graduate this academic year, do not have to pay the high institutional fee after the summer. They may complete the missing curriculum component on payment of the (much lower) statutory tuition fees that Dutch and EU students pay. The messure, which applies to all Dutch universities, is intended for third-year bachelor's and first-year (for a one-year master's) and second-year (for a two-year master's) master's students. The practical details at UM are currently being worked out in more detail. Students who qualify for this will receive a message.

 

THU 18 JUNE

- Extra five million to reduce workload

Maastricht University will invest at least an extra five million to reduce the workload and combat the negative consequences of corona. The amount comes from the reserves. An investment program will be launched in the very near future, the Executive Board and the deans have decided this week, which focuses on those places within the university where the need is currently greatest. With this initiative, as stated in the press release that was published today, the UM board wants to express its appreciation for the commitment and flexibility of the employees, not only during this corona period, but also in recent years when the workload was also high .

FRI 12 JUNE

- UM SPORT started outdoor sports activities last Monday.

- Until September 1, working from home is still the starting point at Maastricht University. To a limited extent and under strict conditions, buildings at Randwijck and in the city center are opened up, either for employees or for students. Click here for an overview (for example, the Skillslab is limited open to third-year medical students in preparation for their clinical skills assessment programme. Skills trainings can also be planned here from 29 June).

 

MO 8 JUNE

-Physical meeting is crucial for university education. The timeslot between 11:00 and 15:00 is really too tight for that, the joint rectors of Dutch universities argue on Science Guide (in Dutch). "Give students the space they need in this crisis period to develop."
 

TUE 2 JUNE

-Since 1 June, everyone living in the Netherlands with (mild) corona-like complaints can have themselves tested at the GGD for COVID-19. You can make an appointment via telephone number 0800-1202. There are two test locations in Limburg: in the car park next to the Van der Valk hotel in Urmond and on the Nijmeegseweg in Venlo (students who have difficulty reaching the test locations can contact their study advisor). The results of the test will follow within 24 hours. For more information, see: https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/news/information-coronavirus-covid-19

-The central student council of the University of Amsterdam is instituting summary proceedings against the university for the use of surveillance software during online exams. The case will be held on Thursday 5 June and could have consequences for the whole of higher education. HOP

 

TUE 26 MAY
- Studium Generale starts their first online lecture series tonight. Philosopher René Gabriëls will be discussing Philosophy in Times of Corona (in Dutch) every Tuesday for the next three weeks. The title of the first reading? Apocalyptic representations. The lectures are free, registration is required.
 

WED 20 MAY

- Given the nice weather, another measure announced yesterday by Prime Minister Rutte is also interesting: the terraces will open again on June 1st. If you belong to the same household, you don't have to sit a meter and a half apart. By the way, the residents of a student house are not seen as one household. This has already led to fines if, for example, housemates sat together on a lawn in front of their house. HOP

- Cambridge University looks more than a year ahead in the corona crisis. Until the summer of 2021, all lectures are online, the university has announced. It is the first top university to make a decision about this. Most other institutions are not yet officially looking beyond the first semester of the new academic year. Keeping a distance will remain the norm for the time being, the British university expects, so it wants to give its students clarity about this. Small working groups may be able to meet​.

- Prime Minister Rutte confirmed yesterday evening that colleges and universities will be open again from 15 June for practical lessons, exams and supervision of vulnerable students. Things are still going in the right direction with the fight against the corona virus: there are fewer patients and fewer IC recordings. Higher education may again partly take place on campus, as previously stated. However, most education will remain online for the time being. Students can only come to the campus if there is no other option, such as during practicals. The educational activities and exams must take place between 11 am and 3 pm or after 8 pm so that students can travel outside rush hour. But customization is possible, according to information from the national government. HOP

 

TUE 19 MAY

- Last Thursday, the Faculty Council of Psychology and Neuroscience (FPN) discussed what education at the faculty will look like after the summer. There are still some hurdles to overcome. The tutorial rooms in Randwyck will only fit 5 people if you have to keep 1.5 meters distance, so four students and a tutor. Is that enough for a good tutorial group? And where do you get the time, space and tutors for all these small groups? So maybe partly online, partly offline is better? But then a dichotomy between Dutch and foreign students, if the latter cannot travel to Maastricht, lurks, teachers fear. Do the online participants really belong to the group? Will the international classroom be guaranteed in this way? Those are the dilemmas that FPN will be addressing in the coming weeks.

- Can non-EU students receive a discount on their tuition fees if they follow online education? Nokhez Usama, student member of the Faculty Council of FPN, presented this idea Thursday during the council meeting. “They pay 8000 euros more than EU students. If they cannot come to Maastricht and the education goes online, it is a completely different experience. ” Read: a less intensive experience abroad. According to Usama there should be a different price tag.

FRI 15 MAY

- Students who graduate between September 2020 and the end of January 2021 will receive three months' tuition fees back. For students at universities and colleges, this is 535 euros. The ministry assumes that many of these students would be ready faster without the corona crisis. But that is not determined per student: so the dawdlers among them are lucky. 
The cabinet has also looked at students with an additional grant and / or basic grant. If they lose their right to this scholarship in July, August and September, they will receive an allowance. For HBO and WO students, this is a one-off 1,500 euros.

THU 14 MAY

- The Election Edition of Observant is out! And can only be seen online because of the corona crisis (normally the newspaper goes with the paper Observant two weeks before the university elections, this year from May 25-28). The candidates for the Faculty Councils, University Council and Service Councils introduce themselves. Click here to read the edition.

- Although the libraries in the country may open again, this does not apply to the University Library (UL) of Maastricht University. When asked by a student council member about the ULs yesterday during a university council committee, Rector Rianne Letschert answered that there is a difference between the functions of regular libraries where mainly books are lent and the University library where students mainly want to study. In principle, online education will continue to take place at UM until 1 September, although a Smart Start Up working group is now working on the (re) opening and making UM buildings 1.5 meters proof. Priority is given to the lab functions, especially for PhD students and students who must use them for their graduation.

- A working group led by Prof. Nanne de Vries (FHML) is currently making an inventory of the various costs involved in the corona crisis and 'closure' of the university buildings. Rector Rianne Letschert cannot yet provide an overview, she says to a student council member in a university council committee, on Wednesday afternoon, when asked. "An initial analysis will come soon." For example, hiring an external agency for the technology of online promotional ceremonies, licenses for video calling programs, an external spokesperson, the delay of PhD students and postdocs, the gift of 50 euros to all employees and temporary workers as compensation. On the other hand, the 'revenues', such as trips and conferences that are canceled, lunches that are no longer there. However, Letschert makes clear that those revenues are nothing compared to the cost item.
 

TUE 12 MAY

- The corona crisis also has consequences for the new Collective Labor Agreement (CAO) of the Dutch universities. The negotiators want to reserve 0.45 percent of the total wage costs at universities to fund "bottlenecks related to Covid-19," the VSNU press release said. This could, for example, be an extension of temporary contracts for researchers and lecturers.
Furthermore, a structural wage increase of 3 percent is on the table as of 1 June 2020. In addition, on the basis of full-time employment, employees receive a one-off payment of € 750 gross. The supporters have yet to approve the agreement.
 

FRI 8 MAY

- Bachelor’s students who have gained almost all credits – at least 80 per cent, or 48 ECTS – of their last year, may - contrary to the norm – embark on a master’s programme at the UM in September.

- Despite the relaxation of the measures, UM still adheres to the motto 'we work at home as much as possible'. In the meantime, it is being examined how the UM buildings - with the 1.5-meter rule in mind - could be used again as a workplace and where education could take place at the same time. From 25 May, a pilot will be set up for this purpose at the Tongersestraat 53.

- Student organizations LSVb, ISO and the Erasmus Student Network are concerned about international students in the Netherlands. They often lose their side jobs, a joint press release states. Some also cannot fall back on the support of their parents if they also lose their jobs in the crisis. This makes it increasingly difficult for them to pay tuition and rent. The organizations argue for one central, up-to-date, English-language website with good information about covid-19.
Government party D66 asked parliamentary questions last night about the position of international students and highly skilled migrants. (HOP)
 

FRI 1 MAY

- For coffee, a new desk lamp, or the extra electricity. UM gives all employees, whether they work part-time or full-time, have a permanent or temporary appointment, a one-off fee of 50 euros as a contribution towards the costs of working from home. Working from home was introduced overnight in March by order of the government. About 4,500 people receive the compensation.

THU 30 APRIL

- The emergency fund that was created in early April by the Limburg University Fund / SWOL for students with money problems due to the corona crisis has now paid out approximately 35 thousand euros. The vast majority (90 percent) of the students who received aid come from abroad. In total, 55 of the 80 applications received loans of up to 1,500 euros, which are converted into a gifts upon graduation or re-enrollment at UM. The fund still has more than 35,000 euros in cash for new or current applications.

WED 29 APRIL

​- Universities make every effort to prevent study delays. About 93 percent of all higher education continues as usual: "That is no small feat," said the Minister of Education. Anyone who is currently delayed in studying can still make up for it in later years. She therefore did not respond today the opposition's call to reduce tuition fees or extend the supplementary grant for a few months.

- Coming Sunday, rector Rianne Letschert will take part in an expert debate about the corona crisis on Dutch television (19:15, NPO2). All sections of society will be discussed, such as education (Letschert), economics (Rabobank-director Barbara Baarsma), mental health (psychiatrist Damiaan Denys) and science (professor Louise Fresco). The debate will be conducted by journalist Coen Verbraak. The recording is today, in the opera building in Amsterdam.

TUE 28 APRIL

- Minister Van Engelshoven wants to financially compensate final-year students for the study delay they suffer as a result of the corona crisis. According to Dutch newspaper NRC, the scheme focuses specifically on students in their final year. "First-year students who are delayed can catch up later," the newspaper quotes the minister's spokesperson. “But we really have to compensate students who would graduate before the summer and who have to enroll again in Corona in September.” It is not yet known exactly what the scheme will look like and how many students it concerns.

THU 23 APRIL

- D66 and CDA want the cabinet to identify which students are in trouble because of the corona crisis and then do what it takes to help them. The parties tabled a motion to this effect that was passed by the House of Representatives. Universities are making every effort to keep their education running during the corona crisis. However, it seems inevitable that some students will experience study delays. Prime-minister Mark Rutte first wanted to see what other arrangements are already available for students with study delay. "If there is still a residual category, we will try to solve it with some leniency," he said. Minister Van Engelshoven is now in conclave with the institutions and students about this 'residual category'. The House hopes that the motion will speed up this process. (HOP)

WED 22 APRIL

- More rooms are empty due to the corona crisis. The supply has risen by 53 percent in the past four weeks, housing platform Kamernet reports on the basis of its own file, with the largest growth in private supply in Amsterdam. The corona virus also affected the number of house hunters. In the first two weeks after the announcement of the corona measures, the number of Dutch home seekers declined, initially by almost a quarter. It has now almost recovered to the level of 2019. The number of international home seekers on the Kamernet site fell by no less than half. That is also rising again. (HOP)

MON 20 APRIL

- The PAS (Pleasure, Art and Science) festival, which was scheduled to take place on 4 and 5 September, is canceled this year. Organiser Studium Generale has decided this together with the Executive Board. The uncertainty and risk are too great, writes head Rob van Duijn on the festival's website. Studium Generale hopes to be able to offer the rest of their program normally again from the beginning of the new academic year.

THU 16 APRIL

- The renovation of Universiteitssingel 40 and 50 cannot begin earlier. Nanne de Vries, vice dean of the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, reported this on Tuesday at the Faculty Council. It had been hoped that, for example, construction on the lecture halls could be started earlier, since they are now empty due to the corona virus. But changing the timeframe means starting a new tendering procedure, and since a procedure is already underway, that would actually slow things down rather than speed them up. De Vries now hopes to be able to negotiate with the contractor with whom UM will eventually join forces.

WED 15 APRIL

- The INKOM 2020 will be different than usual. There will be no "normal" entrance (planned in August) this year with large-scale parties and events. UM announced this in the latest update today. The university takes into account that there will be a ban on large-scale events even after 1 June and will also not endanger the safety and health of current and new students in any way. An alternative is now being sought, which could for instance be a mix of small-scale meetings and new interactive digital events.

- Students who are still in Maastricht and do not have internet or a good place to study can use a special facility in the building at Minderbroedersberg 6a. That said the Vice President of the Executive Board, Nick Bos, to the University Council last week. You cannot just walk in, he emphasized. Students must register via the website. The student section of the University Council reacted very interested. Although it has been brought to the attention through various channels - the website, a corona update and the online student portal - no students have used the workplaces until today (April 15), interim spokesman Fons Elbersen says.

TUE 14 APRIL

- Due to the corona crisis, students make little use of their public transport student card. They often no longer travel up and down to their university and visits to the parental home are also discouraged. That is why they can travel with it for three months longer, reports the Ministry of Education. Temporarily stopping the card is not an option. Students who are going to study abroad may temporarily stop their public transport card. They will then receive an OV reimbursement of EUR 98.72 per month.

- The work of some UM employees has come to stand still during the corona crisis. On the other hand, it may be extra busy in some departments. They could use some extra hands. A job bank (in Dutch: klussenbank) was established at the beginning of this month to bring them into contact with each other. "The project is still in the starting phase," says Marlou Tijssens of the Staff Career Center. "So far, eight employees have volunteered to help." At the number of jobs offered, however, there is still room for improvement. Only the university library has supplied one. "The people are ready to help, we just need more jobs."

- The majority of the 55 courses at the Maastricht Summer School will be canceled this summer due to the corona crisis. A selection of eighteen courses that also come into their own online will continue. If there are at least enough registrations.

THU 9 APRIL

- There are still 24 students from Maastricht who are stuck abroad and want to go home. The UM is very busy with helping them to get back, said Martin Paul, chair of the executive board, during the latest meeting of the university council. Last Wednesday there were still 36 people stuck abroad.

- Three Belgian educational institutions from just across the border ask landlords from Limburg to adjust the rent for student rooms or not to collect it at all. "We receive harrowing stories about income that disappears partially or even completely, from students or from their parents," write the rector of the University of Hasselt and the directors of colleges PXL and UCLL. Many students from these institutions have a room in Dutch Limburg, but are now back with their parents. "Paying the rent for a room that is not currently used is regularly quoted by them as a heavy financial expense."

WED 8 APRIL

- Today, Wednesday April 8, 2020, the first fully online promotion took place at Maastricht University. Doctoral candidate Leon Skottnik and his supervisors Rainer Goebel and Bettina Sorger from the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience had the scoop. Skottnik defended his dissertation Understanding and improving neurofeedbackguided self-regulation: On the neuropsychological mechanisms of neurofeedback across mental tasks and time via the Zoom platform. In his dissertation he describes what happens in the brain during neurofeedback training and how the underlying learning process can be supported.

- The online test period started last week and the first fraud cases also surfaced. Ten SBE master's students were charged with plagiarism after the 'plagiarism checker' discovered that they had answered in exactly the same terms. They now have to go to the examination board. Everything seems to be not so bad at the other faculties. Until now, as far as can be seen, there have been no more cases of fraud than usual.

TUE 7 APRIL

-Controls at the Dutch-German border have been tightened. For the time being, the UM card is sufficient to identify why you have to cross the border.

-Those who are in arrears with DUO student finance need not be afraid of bailiffs and seizure in these corona times. "We do not use the Central Judicial Collection Agency for new cases during the corona crisis," says a spokesman for DUO. "That fits within the leniency that goes with this exceptional situation."
The regular repayment of student debts continues as normal. If this is not possible due to the corona crisis, (former) students can temporarily stop the repayment by using a repayment-free period via MijnDuo. If they can no longer make use of this or if they cannot comply with a current payment arrangement, a tailor-made solution will be sought.
 

MON 6 APRIL

- Via "Zoom" the supporters of the Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg have chosen a new board. The candidates come from Leiden, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Nijmegen and Enschede. The ISO is rooted in the participation councils of universities and colleges. The members elect a board to represent them in politics and in consultation with the minister and the umbrella organizations of universities and colleges.
 

THU 2 APRIL

- The university elections of 2020 will not be postponed because of the corona virus. As planned, it’s possible to vote for the service councils and the student sections of the university and faculty council(s) between the 25th and 28th of May. That has been decided after consultation with the chair of the U-council and the student parties, says Niels Harteman, secretary of the central electoral committee. Physical voting offices wouldn’t have been there anyway, voting is only possible online. “The only thing will be different this year, is that promotion must be digital.” Moreover, postponing the elections until September or October would for example mean that “there will be other voters and that the current councilmembers will be in the council longer than their terms”.
The nomination of the candidates will, as planned, also take place online. Students and staff who are interested can register here between April 6th and 14th.

- The crowdfunding campaign for "students in financial distress", which was started this week by the University Fund-SWOL and UM, has already raised more than thirteen thousand euros from more than two hundred donors.

WED 1 APRIL

- From April 8, it is possible to obtain a PhD online at Maastricht University. The candidate must indicate that it will be an online session at least five days before the meeting - after consultation with the promotor and the committee. The audience can watch live via Zoom. The role of the paranymphs no longer applies in this setting. Mary Kaltenberg from UNU-Merit  received her doctorate online from UM on 18 March. 

- The University Fund Limburg / SWOL has started a crowdfunding campaign for the UM student in dire financial straits. They hope to raise a total of 40 thousand euros. On Wednesday morning the counter was at 2050 euros. The Fund wants to use the money to help students who have seen their income evaporate due to the corona crisis and whose parents cannot help. It is considered on a case-by-case basis who is entitled to the grant, the intention being that the money goes to where "the need is greatest."

TUE 31 MARCH

-Dutch government has extended the anti-corona measures until April 28 (this was April 6). Restaurants and sports clubs, for example, will remain closed until that date. Schools will be closed until the May holiday (first week of May). It is also still the case that people should travel as little as possible, try to work from home and keep at least 1.5 meters away from each other outdoors. Maastricht University had previously decided to organize all education online for the rest of the academic year.


-Most bachelor's programs at Maastricht University have a new registration deadline of 1 August. Look here on the UM site for precise information. The deadlines for the master's programs have not been adjusted. UM has a special website with all information about the application process.

- An international student from the University of Amsterdam is very concerned about the financial position of students and has started a petition. She calls on the government to help students in need of money by, for example, a monthly rent contribution or relaxation of the rent allowance. Most studens are not entiteld to this now because they do not have an independent home. Almost 11 thousand people have already signed the petition

- The Inkom will continue as planned for the time being. "Of course we keep in mind that this can change, but for now, it looks like we can have a normal Inkom," says Milou Berdenis van Berlekom, chair of the Working Group Inkom. The WGI is experiencing few problems so far because of the corona crisis. “We work from home and are more active on social media because, for example, when looking for volunteers we will mainly communicate online. We have been in contact with the locations and the artists for a while, so we do not run the risk of them moving something that was planned for the coming weeks to the Inkomweek.”

MON 30 MARCH

- SSH & COVID-19 has been launched: "The expertise portal for social sciences and humanities in the Netherlands." According to the Amsterdam initiators, the SSH knowledge and expertise with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic will become available through this platform. Those looking for an expert can also go there. 


- Travel as little as possible up and down from your student house to your parental home. Do you have a relationship? Then try to live at one address as much as possible. And if someone is sick in your student house, stay in quarantine with the whole house until everyone is free of complaints for 24 hours. The Landelijke Kamer van Verenigingen (national chamber of associations) is taking additional measures to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus (only in Dutch). 


FRI 27 MARCH

- Most of the staff and students who were abroad at the start of the corona crisis have either gone home or somewhere safe. UM has contact with thirty students and ten employees who have problems getting home. Main cause: canceled flights. This is what UM reports in their last update.

- The strict separation between the bachelor's and masters's programs may disappear a year now that the corona crisis causes study delay. The universities are in consultation about this, reports the association of universities, VSNU.

- Students who are in financial distress due to the corona crisis - think of the loss of the side job - can apply for an extra loan, the minister of Education decided last week. The Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) does not have the impression this is happening. There has not yet been an increase in the number of applications.

THU 26 MARCH

- In the past few weeks, about five hundred students have reported to the corona crisis hotline of the National Student Union (LSVb) and the FNV. All of them have work-related problems. Temporary workers have been made redundant, students with zero-hour
contracts are no longer scheduled. The loss of income can amount to hundreds of euros per month. The two unions have set up a hotline to help young people.

-The Minister of Environment and Housing and the landlord organizations have agreed not to evict anyone now. In addition, the minister comes with an urgent law to extend temporary lease contracts. The Woonbond and the LSVb support this. Read the statement here, in Dutch.

 

WED 25 MARCH

- The student representatives of Fasos have started a Quarantine Café where FASoS students and staff can talk and share experiences in times of corona. You can register here

- UM Sports has asked their instructors to make video recordings of workouts. The sports centre shares them on their social media channels. They also refer to fun YouTube workouts from others. Members get access to FitSnacks.TV, an online platform that offers classes that UM Sports normally offers, such as Power Yoga, HIIT and Circuit Training.

TUE 24 MARCH

- "Be kind to your fellow students, tutors and other university staff. These are strange and difficult times. We don't know everyone's personal situation." Some students and staff are far from home, others are concerned about elderly relatives, some have to look after children." FaSoS gave the bachelor student ten tips to "help you as we re-start education". 

-The Executive Board (Rianne Letschert, Nick Bos and Martin Paul) performs in a webinar. They tell about their own experiences during the corona crisis and answer questions. The webinar starts today at 2.30 pm and can be found on UMfacebookInstagram en Youtube.


MON 23 MARCH

-The work of the UM psychologists continues 'normally'. They are available for appointments via Skype. They still have a lot of room for appointments on the short term. You can make an appointment online in the usual way. The psychologists also hope to introduce a telephone consultation hour this week.

Group services will be made available online in shorter pieces. This week, students can attend an online lecture on resilience (Tuesday), a live online meditation session (Wednesday) and an online meeting on beating the corona blues (Thursday). For more information, please see https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/well-being-movement/student-wellbeing-overview


-On Sharing is Caring Maastricht, a petition is circulating from students (not UM) who want to persuade the government to provide temporary rent contribution for all students in the Netherlands (especially the group of foreigners). According to the initiators, students should be protected if they can no longer pay their rent due to lost income.
They hope to achieve a monthly government contribution to rent payment or an extension of huurtoeslag's eligibility so that it includes non-self-sufficient housing as well. Secondly, they hope for a law that would protect tenants from being evicted for late rent payment during the time of the coronavirus crisis. Furthermore, they ask the government to freeze the requirement for international students to work for at least 56 hours a month to be eligible for the student loan and travel product for the time of the coronavirus crisis.

FRI 20 MARCH
-The deadline for applying to a new study programme, which until now was 1 May, is being extended. For prospective students from countries that do not belong to the European Economic Area (EEA), for now 1 June will be the new application deadline. For students from the EEA a new application date has not yet been set (but not earlier than 1 June), possibly even later. 

-As of today, the municipality of Maastricht will place digital warning signs at the Stadspark, De Griend and in the Tapijnpark. The text: #corona keep distance 1.5 meters.

 

-Employees living in Germany or Belgium and working from home for 25% or more of their working hours, will normally be subject to the social security legislation of their country of residence. However, due to the exceptional situation, Member States have decided that working from home will not have any impact during the coronavirus pandemic. Read here a blog on the UM-site about this topic.

-Martins blog. Martin Paul, chairman of the Executive Board and clinical pharmacologist (and regular columnist in newspaper De Limburger) has started a blog where he shares his thoughts. It is about personal opinions in which he wants to separate the facts from the fables. Scientific evidence deserves attention and not the hypes, bizarre or even dangerous stories. He wants to give his blog readers food for thought, says the UM update.

- Students who have lost their job due to the corona crisis and get into financial difficulties may borrow extra, the Minister has determined. Those who already borrow to the maximum can request an extra loan. DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs) will assess who is eligible. The two national student organizations are critical. In their view, the student must absorb the financial blow of the crisis, while others in society - companies, freelancers, industry - do receive support.

-The National Student Survey is cancelled this year. That is the annual questionnaire in which students can give their opinion on education. The Keuzegids is partly based on the results of the NSE.
 

THUR 19 MARCH
-All physical education will be cancelled for the rest of the academic year. The attendance obligation for students therefore does not apply in periods five and six. However, an exception is made for practical and skills education; if that is possible as of 1 May, students can start working in the faculty.
 

WED 18 MARCH
-The Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences has called back all its exchange students. Maastricht University has advised students who are still abroad on an exchange visit or who are doing a work placement and who are worried about the situation, to return to Maastricht or an alternative home address. The Executive Board also advises people to check their travel insurance to see whether extra costs will be reimbursed. Should this not be possible or even only partially, students can contact the university. However, this does not mean that UM is necessarily paying. That must first be discussed internally (with the six faculties) and externally (with the other universities and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science), spokesman Fons Elbersen says.
Students who have to cut short their work placements or exchange visits abroad will be given an alternative study assignment in order to still gain credits.

-More cancelled events: the Eurovision Song Festival that was to be held in Rotterdam this year, has been cancelled. It is most likely that Rotterdam and therefore the Netherlands will be given a second chance in 2021.

-In Belgium, where a ‘light’ lockdown has been announced, you may only travel if it is strictly necessary as and from today 12:00 hrs (18 March). Commuter traffic is permitted. It is unclear exactly how the Belgians will check this. The UM is drawing up a digital declaration for cross-border workers stating that the person in question is 'needed' at work. This will be available from tomorrow, Thursday, 19 March, (inquire with your manager).

-The first virtual PhD ceremony at UNU-Merit!

-All events have been cancelled for the time being, what has been called off at the university and in Maastricht?
* Studium Generale has cancelled all events until 2 April. A number of lectures planned after that time has also been cancelled, such as the one on Central Banks by Andrew G. Haldane on 20 April and the (Observant) interview with Janine Abbring on 21 April. Studium Generale will try to reschedule events in Autumn, if possible.

* The Experience Days, where school-leavers can spend a day at the university (was to take place in MARCH)

* All alumni meetings 

* King’s Day (27 April). Maastricht was to host the king and his family this year, but is unable to arrange the programme under the present circumstances. There is still a lot of uncertainty as to what will and won’t be allowed by that time.

* The ‘Groene Loper run’, in which many students and members of staff were to participate, on 13 April has been postponed. A new date is not yet known.

* Museum Night, when thirteen museums in Maastricht open their doors at night, has been rescheduled for October 30.

 

TUE 17 MARCH
-All internships have been stopped. This concerns work placements in the hospital, GP practices and other care institutions such as nursing homes.

-MUMC & RIVM messages: face masks can be used twice because of plasma sterilisation. 


MON 16 MARCH
-The Executive Board has decided to postpone all academic sessions, at least until April 6. It concerns PhD ceremonies, inaugural lectures and farewell speeches, about twenty in total. An exception can be made in special cases, but this is only possible after consultation and approval by Rector Rianne Letschert. For all exceptions, the session can take place online or with a limited number of attendees (maximum thirty). Read here the interview with Gwen Noteborn. Her PhD thesis fits in seamlessly with current affairs: ICT innovations in education. Her PhD ceremony is planned for 1 April, but may take place online.


SUN 15 MARCH
-University Library closes its doors, all UM buildings closed for students and staff as of 16 March. Employees should work from home as much as possible.


THUR 12 MARCH
-As of Monday, 16 March, Maastricht University will only provide distance education. Compulsory attendance has been abolished, mass exams for block period 4 have been cancelled. Employees should work from home as much as possible. So, there will be no online lectures, no events involving more than a hundred participants, no face-to-face academic education. The latter was not mentioned by the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte during his press conference earlier today, which only referred to the cancellation of large-scale lectures, but it was stated in a letter to the Second Chamber that appeared later.

-The four large student associations Koko, Tragos, Circumflex and Saurus have closed their doors with immediate effect. The associations have also appealed to their members to not meet up somewhere else, but to remain at home. Board members will work from home as much as possible.
 

THUR 12 MARCH
16.30
Dutch higher education will, as yet, not close its doors because of the coronavirus. Although the government does want universities and universities of applied sciences to offer lectures for more than a hundred students online. They are also advising everyone to stay at home as much as possible.

10.00
The University of Antwerp has been locked down, Denmark has closed all schools and universities, the university sports centres of Tilburg and Eindhoven will remain closed until at least Monday, 16 March, and the TEFAF art fair was discontinued prematurely last night. The Executive Board of Maastricht University sees no reason for drastic measures yet, but is preparing for a variety of scenarios.

WED 11 MARCH
-Three Italian students launched a petition in which they urge Maastricht University to close its doors because of the coronavirus. Within twenty hours, it was signed more than a thousand times. Students in Randwyck are already noticing the effects of the stricter measures in the hospital. They are called on to avoid the MUMC as much as possible.


TUE 10 MARCH
-MUMC steps up measures by calling off all meetings and receptions until 1 April. In addition, students who are doing internships are not allowed inside the operating theatre for the time being. Nor are they given any other tasks that require the use of face masks. The latter is because of the scarcity of protective materials.


THUR 5 MARCH
-A postdoc from the department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering has tested positively for the coronavirus. She lives in Aachen and has stayed at home by way of precaution, having probably contracted the infection in Germany.
 

WED 4 MARCH
-So far, 25 students from Maastricht University have reported sick for education activities. They will stay at home because they are sneezing or coughing or have a fever in combination with having recently returned from a high-risk area for the corona virus. In such cases, the UM advises to remain at home for two days and see how the illness progresses. No student or member of staff has yet been diagnosed with the so-called Covid-19 virus.
On top of that, there are about twenty students who aren’t ill, but did recently came back from an ‘infected’ area and reported themselves out of precaution. “We advise them to participate in education”, says Nick Bos, vice president of the Executive Board, who heads the crisis management team.

TUE 3 MARCH
-So far, seventeen students from Maastricht University have reported to the special check-in point as being absent. They will stay at home because they are sneezing or coughing or have a fever in combination with having recently returned from a high-risk area for the corona virus. The areas deemed risky by the RIVM, include Northern Italy, China, Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Iran. The German border region Gangelt has been specifically added for Limburg. Christian Hoebe, UM professor and head of infectious diseases control for the local health authority, GGD Zuid Limburg (responsible for the fight against the corona virus and monitoring people), says that the municipal health services have everything under control for now. “With all the people who have been infected, the links can be made back to the source and as long as we can do that, there is no widespread transfer of the disease, like in Northern Italy.”

-The UM advises everyone to wash their hands regularly with soap, to cough and sneeze into the inside of the elbow, and to use paper tissues instead of cotton ones. Shaking hands is also advised against.


FRI 31 JANUARY                                       

-Maastricht University advises its students and staff not to travel to the Chinese province of Hubei, with Wuhan as epicentre of the outbreak of the corona virus. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advice for China. There is a negative travel advisory for the province of Hubei. Travelling to the rest of China, including Hong Kong, is discouraged, unless it's absolutely necessary.

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