The Dutch Ministry of Education has asked universities to draw up two scenarios: one with and one without one-and-a-half metres social distancing. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Hugo de Jonge stated during the press conference that a decision will be made by the ministry on 13 August. (That’s three days before Eureka Week is set to start). Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven repeated this message in a letter to all higher education institutions and universities.
Erasmus School of Economics lecturers are bending over backwards
“And to my frustration and that of my colleagues at other faculties, the minister is not really cooperating,” says Brigitte Hoogendoorn, programme director at the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE). Criticism from all over the country is being levelled at the government’s approach. The universities say that waiting until mid-August is unworkable. The ESE is leaving it up to their teachers to choose what is workable for the subjects that they teach. In the meantime, our teachers have to bend over backwards to make two scenarios feasible, which demands a lot of effort in the summer after an already busy year.” The two scenarios are so different, according to Hoogendoorn, that planning is difficult. If one-and-a-half-metre social distancing is maintained, this will primarily have an impact on small-scale education, which is more difficult to find a good alternative for than for the large lectures that can easily be streamed.
Erasmus MC is awaiting guidelines
For Medicine, too, it is still a matter of puzzling out what to do next. Pro-Dean Maarten Frens had previously stated that he was essentially awaiting guidelines from the ministry. “A lot is riding on this for us, especially when it comes to practical education and larger groups,” he said at the time. The guidelines have not provided Frens with much clarity: the study programme will have to draw up several scenarios.
‘In the meantime, our teachers have to bend over backwards to make two scenarios feasible, which demands a lot of effort in the summer after an already busy year’
Maximum of 75 people at Erasmus School of Philosophy
“At the Philosophy department, the courses in all programmes will take place on campus from September onwards, if that’s possible,” says Han van Ruler, dean of education at the Erasmus School of Philosophy. The minister has indicated that the most likely scenario is that the one-and-a-half-metre limit will be dropped, but that then a maximum of 75 people will be permitted in a lecture hall. The Philosophy bachelor programme is taking this scenario into account. Students register in advance for the larger lectures. The rest of the students can follow via a stream, and everyone can watch the recording again on Canvas. For study groups and the masters’ programmes, groups are often small enough to be able to go ahead.
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management: All taking place on campus
At the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, all lessons will take place on campus, says dean of education Jane Murray Cramm. Measures will be taken for international students, as is the case for all faculties.
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication will be either offline or online
Hybrid education, as in, partly offline and partly online, is not everyone’s cup of tea. At the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC), lectures are either online or offline. “We are doing our best to avoid hybrid education where possible,” dean of education Jason Pridmore explains. “We did not find hybrid education effective for students or particularly desirable for our faculty, so most classes are either held on campus or online. Courses within our Dutch programmes will be 100 precent in person.” The ESHCC has asked lecturers what they want, in person or preferably digital. So far, there have been no clashes with anyone’s preferences or with what is needed to teach the courses, says Pridmore. “I am very happy with the levels of openness and flexibility of our teaching staff.”
‘We are doing our best to avoid hybrid education where possible’
As much as possible offline at Erasmus School of Law
What should not be done digitally, will not be done digitally next year. This continues to be the faculties’ message. “We also really want to offer graduation ceremonies on campus again,” say Maarten Verbrugh and Harriët Schelhaas, both deans of education at the Erasmus School of Law (ESL). “Students have worked so hard, and have really been put through their paces. It would be great if we could put them in the spotlight on campus again, they have earned it. And we, as teachers, are also looking forward to that.” For the bachelor’s programmes, they want to offer offline tutorials at the ESL for as long as they can. There are fourteen students in each of these groups. Teachers or tutors will not be able to choose an online option here. “But as long as the corona crisis persists, we do have to provide an online alternative. We do this by offering a number of exclusively virtual tutorial groups.”
Rotterdam School of Management: 'Come to Rotterdam'
The message for RSM students is clear: Come to Rotterdam! The Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) has even stated this literally on their own website. Dean of Education Michel Lander also refers to it. “This is the extent of clarity that we can provide with the current information available that the ministry has afforded.” If it is impossible to attend, then classes will take place online. The RSM is asking international students to come to the Netherlands by mid-August at the latest, due to introduction activities.
Guarantee of (online) education at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences
The Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB) guarantees the provision of online education until the end of December. “Assuming that the covid crisis is under control by then”, says Bram Steijn, dean of education at ESSB. Should the one-and-a half-metre social distancing rule still apply, part of the faculty’s schooling will ‘have to go online’, Steijn lets us know.
International Institute of Social Studies is hoping for all students in the Netherlands
Besides planning courses, the totally multinational International Institute of Social Studies are busy providing information to their students. “We therefore advise all students to come to the Netherlands on time,” says dean of education Karin Arts. In addition to the annual advice on visas, information on vaccinations and entry restrictions has also been added.
As a general rule, Erasmus University guarantees international students that they will be able to follow online education if it is not possible for them to travel to the Netherlands. However, the university does expect that most educational activities will take place on campus again after the summer.