It was quite some puzzle for Real Estate & Facilities staff to create as many study spaces on campus as possible while adhering to the RIVM regulations. In the end, Klarenbeek is rather pleased with what they’ve managed. “Right now, it looks as though we can offer sufficient study spaces for the students who are already on campus for ‘offline’ teaching groups and who are looking for a space ‘because they’re here already’.”

How many study spaces are currently available on campus?

Klarenbeek estimates that the university has around 25 per cent of the study spaces that students could access prior to the coronavirus outbreak. “We started with a few study spaces in the University Library and scaled this up slowly to monitor any consequences. There’s now space for four hundred students, which is the maximum feasible if the University Library is to adhere to the 1.5-metre distance rule.”

Students can also study in the Polak and Sanders buildings. “There is space for 118 students in Polak and 70 in Sanders. We’re considering increasing the latter number to a hundred, but we first need to examine all the walking routes carefully.” Real Estate & Facilities has also updated the study spaces in G building. “86 students can sit there.”

How can you secure a space?

You can only book most of the spaces via an online booking system on www.eur.nl/studieplekken. You can cancel your space in the system too if you find you can’t use it for any reason. That will free the space up for a co-student. The university used a booking system during the coronavirus outbreak last academic year too, and it became apparent then that around half of the students do not show up. Klarenbeek is hoping to prevent this now. “That’s why we’ve posted an extra banner in the booking system with the message: you can also cancel your space.”

This seems to help. “So far, with the current number of study spaces, we’ve always had enough spaces available.” And if you’re on campus but haven’t booked, don’t worry. “The G building spaces are for students who arrive and suddenly think: I think I’ll hang around on campus.”

Studieplekken gesloten (4)
Image credit: Tessa Hofland

For how long can you use the study spaces?

The university uses different time slots. There are two time slots for the University Library: from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm and from 4.00 pm until 10.00 pm. Three time slots apply in Sanders and Polak: from 8.00 am to 12.00 noon, from 2.00 pm until 6.00 pm and from 7.00 pm until 11.00 pm. “We’ve opted for three time slots in Sanders and Polak because students in Polak and Sanders often want to sit for shorter periods to have a quick look in their study books there. In the University Library, students often want to make a longer day of it.” Students can come and go as they wish in G building.

What are you allowed to do with the tables and chairs, for instance in Theilhal?

Students can sit on all chairs that are not marked with a cross. They can study there too. “Only we’re not calling these study spaces because they don’t meet the study space criteria, for example because of noisy surroundings or a lack of power sockets. We removed a lot of tables and chairs in such areas last summer. Students are free to use any chairs that are still there. Of course, the chairs should stay where they’ve been positioned so that we can continue to safeguard the 1.5-metre distance between students.” An example of areas where this is possible are the alcoves with chairs and tables in Theilhal, as well as the tables with purple chairs in Van der Goot building.

On fixed furniture, in lecture halls for instance, a cross or a sticker stating ‘do not sit here’ has been placed on the chairs you should not use. “Students can also check the EUR Studyrooms app. The lecture halls and tutorial rooms are stated here. Students can study in these rooms if they’re not being used for teaching.”

Why are the study spaces in Tinbergen closed?

The study spaces in Tinbergen that were opened earlier in the coronavirus outbreak for those students unable to study at home are now closed again. Why? “When the pandemic broke out, we made fifty places available in the PC rooms on the first floor. Those rooms are now being used again for education.” The study places on higher floors in Tinbergen that were refurbished in 2019 have also been closed. “The lifts proved to be a bottleneck. No more than two people can use a lift at the same time, and there are a large number of study spaces in Tinbergen. It’s not possible to cope with all those students with just a few lifts. Of course, you could tell people to use the stairs to reach the twelfth floor, but it’s rather a long way. And we’re concerned that, because of the long wait, more students will get in the lifts than is permitted. We decided to close these study spaces so that we can guarantee a safe environment.”

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