Lockdown over but online teaching continues

Lockdown over but online teaching continues

UM education starts 31 January on campus

24-01-2022 · News

THE NETHERLANDS. Reports from across the whole country say that even though the lockdown in higher education is over, many students are not yet getting on-campus teaching. Higher education cannot be “opened with one click of a button."

Good news for students emerged from the last press conference: they can return to the campus. The only provisos are that they have to wear a face mask everywhere and that no more than 75 students are allowed in a lecture room at any one time.

But there has not yet been a rush. The switch from online to on-campus lectures is apparently a major organisational challenge for educational institutions.

Transitional weeks

At the University of Twente, for example, they did not expect after last Friday’s press conference that lecturers would give on-campus lectures again on Monday morning, a spokesperson told student magazine U-Today. Given the maximum group size, some of the teaching will in any event take place online for the time being.

The final weeks, including interim exams, before the new study period will be used in many places as transitional weeks to buy some time for the academic schedulers. Saxion University of Applied Sciences for instance is looking for solutions for students who are self-isolating, regional newspaper Tubantia reports.

It emerges from a survey by student magazine Folia that at the University of Amsterdam as well many lectures will still be given online during this teaching period. According to Het Parool, the same applies to Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and VU Amsterdam. Here too the maximum group size is given as the main reason.

Self-isolation

Maastricht University has announced that classes will remain online until the end of January. The University of Groningen is also targeting the following teaching period: “Our aim is to provide as much face-to-face teaching as possible again as from the start of the following teaching period.”

Wageningen University is leaving it up to the course coordinators to decide whether teaching will take place online or on campus in the final two weeks of the teaching period. And as in some courses 20 percent of the students are already self-isolating, the university is advising lecturers to offer an online alternative to on-campus teaching, reports student magazine Resource.

Utrecht University announced that classes would take place on campus once again as from 7 February. For ‘small-scale gatherings’ such as mentoring interviews students can already come to the campus again.

Wide open

Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences would “prefer to open all the doors wide straight away”, the website says. But “a university of applied sciences cannot be opened with one click of a button”. So the week began with the ‘old’ timetables. In an interview with Profielen, President of the Executive Board Ron Bormans says it is important to protect people who have to avoid becoming infected. “And after that we can open and stay open. At least, that is my aim.”

Fontys University of Applied Sciences also needs some time to ensure that students can come to the campus safely again, reports news medium Bron. Students will get the new “on-campus teaching timetable as soon as it is ready”. But slightly further away, on the campus of Eindhoven University of Technology, the bike racks were once again “full to overflowing” on Monday morning, Eindhovens Dagblad reports.

Nevertheless, the overall situation is now similar to that in September, when the government suddenly introduced extra relaxations: then too, the academic schedulers were not always able to keep up with the pace.

Difficult

The Dutch National Students' Association regrets this and stresses that last week the educational institutions expressed support for the call to open up higher education as soon as possible. “The fact that in many places they are now dragging their feet is not entirely consistent with that. On the other hand, I realise that it involves a lot of work”, says chair Lisanne de Roos.

The Dutch Student Union is also not surprised that the changeover is taking a while. “It’s difficult for institutions to switch quickly from on-campus to online and back again. I don’t expect there will be much more on-campus teaching after the interim exam period”, says chair Ama Boahene.

HOP, Josefine van Enk and Bas Belleman

Translation: Taalcentrum-VU.

Author: Redactie

Photo: Loraine Bodewes

Tags: press conference,covid,lockdown,online,on campus

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