Universities want to be ‘guinea pig’ for more campus education

Four universities wish to experiment with rapid tests and crowd control. WUR not included.
Photo: Roibu / Shutterstock

Text: Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau and Luuk Zegers

Several universities and university colleges feel it may be possible to have more classes on campus. Four universities, Vrije Universiteit (VU), TU Eindhoven, TU Delft and Groningen University, wish to start experimenting. Hanzehogeschool Groningen has also offered to be a guinea pig for pilots. WUR does not share this ambition, but will ‘monitor’.  

This was revealed in a reaction to propositions from D66 and GroenLinks. These parties seek additional options for education during the corona crisis. They submitted a motion to this effect during a parliamentary debate on the developments in the corona crisis on 9 December.

Eat, sleep, zoom, repeat

D66 representative Jan Paternotte: ‘The lives of a million students is the same every day: eat, sleep, zoom, repeat.’ He and a Groen Links colleague feel there may be more possibilities.

Some universities are eager to try. With help from the government, some five thousand students could be tested during the January exam period in Groningen. A further thousand students and staff could take daily self-tests ‘as soon as these tests become available’.

The TU Delft is developing sensors to monitor how busy the campus is. The system may also be able to predict how busy the campus is, which would allow the university to issues warnings when too many people plan to get together.

WUR geen proeftuiWUR not a testing ground

Press officer Vincent Koperdraat says WUR does not intend to act as a testing ground. ‘The opinions on the rapid tests vary. They are not altogether reliable at this time. Moreover, these tests may contain a risk. People may no longer feel obligated to stick to the measures if they have tested negative. This is something we want to avoid.’

Despite the fact that rapid tests are not as reliable (this and following links lead to Dutch content) as the regular corona test, they may well contribute to getting the virus under control because they can ‘quickly identify infected individuals’ and thus prevent further spreading.

Groningen University is considering setting up a facility for instant testing on campus. Koperdraat: ‘Like the other universities, we will monitor how that develops.’

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