Universities aim for campus education despite increase corona

The number of corona infections is skyrocketing, and the government has reversed the easing of some measures.
Students need to meet, says dean of education Arnold Bregt. Photo Guy Ackermans

The new academic year may be less sunny than expected, writes the Higher Education Press Agency (HOP). Nonetheless, universities aim for campus education.

Text: Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau and Luuk Zegers

The summer has only just begun, and the coronavirus is rampant, especially among youths. The cabinet has taken new corona measures, which may also affect the coming academic year. If the situation remains unaltered, education will not return to normal any time soon.

‘The increasing number of infections is worrisome’, says Wesley Boer, spokesperson of the university association VSNU. ‘We really hope the new measures can be lifted from mid-August because our students and teachers really need social contact on campus.’

Final decision

The cabinet will take the final decision on corona measures for the new academic year no later than 13 August. Until that time, the universities and universities of applied science must prepare for two possible scenarios; the cabinet cautioned—one preferred scenario with few restrictions, and a scenario with restrictions that is still feasible. The universities continue to prepare for an academic year without the 1.5-metre distancing requirement, says the VSNU.

This applies to WUR also, according to dean of education Arnold Bregt. ‘We assume our scenario, in which we will offer campus education to groups of at most 75 students without the 1.5-metre distance, meets the standards. The campus must once again be the basis for education: students need to meet, discuss and collaborate. Practicals and working groups must continue as much as possible, but teachers may continue to offer online education.’

Plan B

Should the corona numbers worsen, there is a fall-back scenario, a plan B, Bregt says. ‘This plan includes distancing. However, this affects room capacity, and thus, the schedule. Therefore, a fall-back timetable has already been made. Thankfully, the new education building Aurora is completed, which makes scheduling education easier. But in that scenario too, the campus remains the basis for our education as much as possible.’

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