No great problems in Maastricht tutorial groups (yet)

No great problems in Maastricht tutorial groups (yet)

How are things at the campus now that infection figures are sky-high?

09-02-2022 · News

MAASTRICHT. Education at Maastricht University remained online until the end of January, but the doors have opened up again. The question is: what do the tutorial groups look like now that COVID-19 infections are rocketing? Deserted classrooms don’t seem to be a thing for the moment, but every faculty has some students who join in online.

To start with, the UM does not have an overview of infection figures at a central level, nor of the number of tutorial groups that have to go online through necessity. Most faculties don’t keep tabs either. “We no longer need to inform the area health authority, fellow students or lecturers,” Judith Buddenberg, head of the education office at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), explains. Besides, it is often an impossible task, “the situation changes every day”. One day, you may have two ‘absentees’ in a tutorial group because of quarantine or Covid. Another day it can run up to eight, which means that a full Zoom meeting is preferred to a hybrid one. Buddenberg: “Fortunately, the lecturers are so flexible that they act on what is possible that particular day.”

Still, there is plenty of activity at most faculties. Mark Vluggen, director of the bachelor's programmes at the School of Business and Economics (SBE), noticed last Monday, “during a round of the teaching wings,” that most groups were complete and present in person. “In some groups, I saw that one or two students were taking the tutorial meeting via Zoom.” At the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life sciences, “it is going well” too, says programme director of Health, Jascha de Nooijer, concisely. Sjoerd Claessens, vice dean of education at the law faculty and also a lecturer in this block period, tells us that “by far most of the students come to the campus”. “I have had no reports of large-scale absenteeism.”
Just like at the other faculties, the law staff works “pragmatically” when it comes to teaching: on campus, in principle, but hybrid if that is not possible “or occasionally completely online”.

It does appear that hybrid education is not an attractive option for quite a few lecturers (and students). Vluggen reckons that people would prefer to go completely online – if a lot of students are at home simultaneously – “because hybrid education then becomes very complicated”. Giselle Bosse, vice dean of education at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has also noticed that. “For example, if two thirds or more students have to stay at home due to quarantine, housing issues, testing positive, et cetera, it is easier to temporarily move the class online than to teach five students on campus with ten others joining in online. The same goes for when teaching staff test positive or have to stay in quarantine. Such decisions are always taken in close collaboration with the course co-ordinator or programme director and only after due consideration of all available options.” 

At FASoS, they do keep an eye on things: a student who wants to join in via Zoom for longer than two weeks, will have to report to the study advisor. “We do not want students to 'disappear' from classes 'unnoticed', because they might need support with their studies.” At the moment, we have 41 students who have applied for online education this block period, says Bosse. Many of these are third-year bachelor’s students​ returning from exchange visits. “It is almost impossible for those students to find a room for only a few months.​”

 

Author: Wendy Degens

Photo: Observant

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: education,covid,covid-19,open,hybrid,instagram

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