Education at Maastricht University will be online “when necessary”, was Observant’s heading last Thursday. It now appears that this ‘when necessary’ applies mainly to the tutorial groups that are faced with students who have tested positive, or tutors who have to stay at home because their children cannot attend school or crèche. Exactly how many groups this concerns? That remains unclear. This is about mutual agreements between tutors and students.
Point of departure for the Faculty of Law remains: education on campus, the form preferred by many students, Sjoerd Claessens, vice dean of education, has heard. But exceptions are possible: “We are pragmatic on the level of the tutorial group.” If we can’t manage, for example, if lecturers are at home with children because primary schools and crèches are closed, we will look for a replacement or another “suitable solution”, says the latest Faculty Journal. Lecturers who do not feel at ease on campus, may report to those in charge. They will either be given a larger hall, or the lecturer can teach from home while the students are present at the faculty.
Most of the tutorial groups and practicals at the Faculty of Science and Engineering take place on campus, says dean Thomas Cleij. “We value our intensive education system with small groups on campus.” We do have tailor-made solutions for students or lecturers who cannot be physically present because of COVID-19, “it differs slightly per programme”. For example, there are hybrid options. “However, we will not switch completely to online, unless it just isn’t possible, because we have learned from the last lockdown. The negative impact of such a switch on our students is too great.”
The tutorial groups are, in principle, hybrid, says Petra Hurks, vice dean of education. Anyone who wishes to come to the campus will be given the opportunity, but anyone who is sick or scared of becoming infected, can join in online. As far as the practicals are concerned: the faculty will look at each component and decide on the best option for a specific practical. The lectures are all online. Hurks: “So, students can come to the faculty relatively often, as long as they don’t have symptoms.”
At the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, most of the tutorial groups are hybrid. This means that at least one student (who for example, has COVID-19-related symptoms, is in quarantine, or has tested positive) is participating online, explains Giselle Bosse, vice dean of education. For the past two weeks, a number of groups have been working completely online: lecturers were housebound because their children were at home or because they themselves had to quarantine.
Tutors can, in close consultation with the programme co-ordinator and the programme director, hold the tutorial group meeting online for one week if one or more students test positive. This happened over the past two weeks with about ten to fifteen tutorial groups, says Bosse. She points out that the situation is not easy at the moment, with both members of staff and students being worried about the danger of getting infected. Student representatives have informed her that they don’t feel good about the idea of taking an exam in the MECC. This always occurs in large groups. Bosse: “I hope that the UM’s decision to guarantee the 1.5-metre distance in the MECC will reduce their worries.”
FASoS UPDATE: On Wednesday afternoon 1 December, during the faculty council meeting, Giselle Bosse announced that three exams of period 2 will not take place in the Mecc. They will be online via Test Vision.
The Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences is following the line of the Executive Board, says education director of Health, Jascha de Nooijer. For the tutorial groups, it is up to the lecturers and the students to make their own decisions regarding whether they want to participate on campus or online. The planned spaces will at any rate remain reserved so that students and lecturers who prefer to be at the faculty for the education activities, have that option. Practicals and training that cannot be given online, take place on campus.
At the School of Business and Economics, it has been up to the tutors of block period 2 to decide whether to have education activities on campus or online these past two weeks. Last Tuesday morning, it appeared during a tour of the building on Tongersestraat 53 that the classrooms with lights on, were practically full. The odd person is wearing a face mask. It is difficult to estimate how many tutorial groups take place online, because tutors don’t need to register what they are doing, says Mark Vluggen, programme director of the bachelor’s studies. “In my own master’s course, fourteen of the nineteen tutorial groups are still on campus at the moment, but I don’t know if that is representative of the whole population.”
Wendy Degens, Riki Janssen, Yuri Meesen