UM will probably go to online education when necessary

UM will probably go to online education when necessary

Even if the government says on Friday that universities can remain open

25-11-2021

MAASTRICHT. There is a good chance that Maastricht University will switch to online education when necessary in the very short term. Even if the cabinet announces during the press conference this Friday that higher education institutions can remain open. That is what Executive Board President/rector Rianne Letschert said to the University Council on Wednesday evening.

The corona situation is worrying, the infection rate in Limburg is the highest in the country, daycare centers and schools in the region are (or will be) partially or completely closed, teachers with children are forced to sit at home again. Letschert: “The government is asking us to offer education on campus.” Something that UM has also explicitly wanted up to now. “But we are concerned about the stress this causes for staff and students.” Some of them want to stick to physical education, others want to go online, Letschert summarized the signals from the faculties. “When will we decide whether we will go online when necessary? Not today and never completely, where possible education will remain on campus. We are waiting for Friday's press conference.” So the UM may be stricter than the government, the University Council concluded.

More flexibility

Apart from that: there will be more flexibility for students and staff regardless. When online education is possible – practical classes have to take place on campus – and is desired, this is now possible. However, after consultation with the program director.

Exams

As for the exams in the Mecc: they will continue, but with one and a half meters distance. “We already decided that last week. We have rented additional space so that we can protect our students and staff.”

If the government decides on Friday that physical exams are out of the question, they will be postponed. “We don't want proctoring [online surveillance at the student's home; Ed.] anymore, we are very clear about that. But postponement would be very stressful. And it can be done safely, we have extra space in the Mecc, the one and a half meters is guaranteed."

Whether a planned graduation ceremony next Sunday can take place is the question. “We are now looking at a plan B in case we have to go into lockdown. Visitors already need a corona pass to enter.”

Booster shot

The University Council was understanding. Mark Govers, member on behalf of the academic staff (WP), wondered whether the Executive Board could lobby in The Hague for quick booster shots for teaching staff. This is already happening in Belgium. It would help a rapid reopening of education. Letschert thought this a good idea and will present it to the collaborating universities, the VSNU.

WP Councilor Luana Russo pointed out that the parents who are now back at home because the schools and daycare centers have closed their doors, are again losing valuable research time. “It goes on and on. This is bad for your research career. This must be resolved.” The UM President/rector agreed. She'll get back to it, she promised.

OMT and cabinet

The OMT has advised the cabinet to keep all education, including the universities, open, NOS reported today, Thursday 25 November, at 11.30 am. RTL Nieuws has a different reading and writes that the OMT offers the government the choice of two scenarios: either open education and no lockdown, or close everything.

Author: Riki Janssen

Photo: UM

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: covid,lockdown,online education,university council,rianne letschert,press conference,government,exams,mecc,instagram

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