Universiteit Leiden

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Organisation, Research

The start of the new academic year in September 2020

6 May 2020

The Faculty’s Decentral Crisis Team (DCT) would like to keep you informed of possible scenarios in relation to the start of the new academic year in September 2020.

It seems inevitable that the measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic will continue for a long time. Protecting public health remains the top priority. Whatever measures are taken, we are entering a period in which restrictions will still have major consequences for both teaching and research. At this time, it seems realistic to assume a scenario where we will have to switch between various options, unable to return to business as usual, until winter at the earliest – and perhaps (much) longer.

Teaching: Online and if possible on campus

It is crucial that we provide all students, and particularly the new students, with the certainty that in the new academic year we will continue to provide top-quality education. Due to the restrictions in place, we are assuming that this will be largely digital, complemented if possible with on-campus activities. What we can offer our students at the faculty buildings and in other ways depends on the government measures and the guidelines of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM). This will therefore require a degree of flexibility from us all.

In the case of our faculty, this entails that we will continue to develop all teaching online including on-campus elements, and that we will offer our successful tutor system to all first-year bachelor’s students. We also intend to welcome our master’s students appropriately in 2020-21, taking account of the special position of international students and special needs groups in our university community, who are challenged even more by these changes. They can rely on our support.

We currently have three working groups that are focussed on keeping online education for the current academic year on the right track as far as possible: “Docentloket” (Helpdesk for lecturers), “Student in beeld” (Student perspectives), and “Remote toetsing en fraudepreventie” (Remote assessments and fraud prevention). Two additional faculty working groups will be set up for the start of the new academic year: “Scenarios for 2020-2021teaching” and “Planning and Control”. We are delighted with the support from a wide range of expertise at the Faculty to work on the major challenges we are facing.

Consequences for research

In the area of research, it is also unlikely that all will return to normal in the short term. That said, perhaps there will be more possibilities that may come a bit sooner than for teaching. Naturally, the national guidelines also apply to research. Although many researchers are keen to return to work at the faculty, as yet it is unclear who may return first, when, and upon relaxation of what measures. We will have to prepare carefully so that we do not lose time unnecessarily and are able to limit the risks.

Together we can succeed

We are fully aware that we are asking a lot of you all in terms of commitment and flexibility, and we greatly appreciate all your efforts. Together we can meet this challenge and come out the other side of the pandemic even stronger. For now, stay healthy and take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

Many thanks, on behalf of the entire Faculty Board and the Decentral Crisis Team,

Joanne van der Leun


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