MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS. Maastricht University and Leiden University have cancelled all face-to-face education for the rest of the academic year. Other universities and universities of applied sciences are considering doing the same.
The two universities are anticipating new measures to curtail the coronavirus. In principle universities and universities of applied sciences will not teach inside their buildings until 6 April, but this could be even longer.
Leiden and Maastricht are keeping their options open: should it be possible to bring students and lecturers together after 1 May, practicals and skills courses could start up again. Students could probably even then take exams in a hall with invigilators.
Other educational institutes have not announced such an extension. But they are not naive. It is “realistic to assume” that it will take longer, writes Wageningen University, for example. Groningen has already extended the period and pushed the date forward by a few days to 10 April.
The Association for Universities of Applied Sciences has not heard from any of their institutes switching to online education for the rest of the academic year, but it might happen, says a spokesperson.
Other universities are also taking this scenario into consideration, so it is possible that the decision taken by Maastricht and Leiden will be followed by others. “I see everyone striving for continuity in uncertain times,” says spokesperson Bart Pierik from the universities’ association VSNU.
That was indeed Leiden’s consideration, says a spokesperson. It is wise not to disrupt the education system several times within a few weeks. “Such changes would put an unnecessary burden on students and lecturers,” says the spokesperson, “and we don’t want that.”
HOP, Bas Belleman