Finally away behind the laptop again, and out of that small student room, said Prime Minister Rutte about the partial opening of higher education.
Finally away behind the laptop again, and out of that small student room, said Prime Minister Rutte about the partial opening of higher education.

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Higher education will be closed for good

The bullet is through the church: from next Monday, students are allowed to come to the campus of their university or college again one day a week. This confirmed outgoing Prime Minister Rutte during a press conference on Tuesday evening.

These were exciting days for higher education: can the doors open again carefully, or not? Student organizations, administrators and politicians have been arguing for more lessons on campus for months, but the cabinet kept a blow to the arm until the last moment: it would depend on the situation in the hospitals, the message last week.

Relieved

The champions can now breathe a sigh of relief. "Not much has changed, but just enough," said outgoing Prime Minister Rutte. From April 26, students are allowed to go to lectures again one day a week or to another form of 'live' education. The basic rules, such as keeping your distance, washing your hands, staying at home in case of complaints, remain in force.

'Not an incredible amount has changed, but just enough'

The colleges and universities have been closed since 16 December. Students follow distance learning as much as possible. Only exams, exams, supervision of vulnerable students and practical training were allowed to take place at the institutions themselves. Last week said AObdriver Douwe van der Zweep said that a possible opening is a cautious extension of what is now allowed. “We can now receive slightly more students at a distance of five feet. Safety remains paramount, but this seems to be organized responsibly ”, says Van der Zweep.

'We can now receive slightly more students at a distance of five feet. Safety remains paramount, but this seems to be organized responsibly '

Finally away behind the laptop again, and out of that small student room, said Rutte. "And although this is no more than a first step, I think it is good news for students and for educational institutions."

Using space

The student organizations confirm this. "One day a week of physical education will hopefully make a difference for students, so that we can conclude this academic year in a positive way," says Dahran Çoban chairman of the Interurban Student Consultation.

But the students are also looking even further ahead. Because one physical lesson a week is still far from normal, says chairman Lyle Muns of the National Student Union (LSVb). "Given the number of infections, it is understandable that the amount of physical education is now only limited, but higher education must be fully reopened in September."

The LSVb has recently received signals that some programs and faculties do not yet intend to offer physical lessons as of April 26. Muns is concerned about this. "We call on training courses to use the space they are now given as much as possible."

'Normal' academic year

In any case, the VSNU university association is eager to reopen the buildings. “We will do everything we can to facilitate more physical encounters as soon as possible,” says chairman Pieter Duisenberg. "Through lectures, work groups, but also in our university libraries and other buildings."

The aim remains to make the academic year 2021-2022 a “normal” academic year, Duisenberg emphasizes, in which every student can come to campus whenever he or she wants. "We call on the cabinet to include this in its opening plan."

Free self-tests

The reopening is not quite the same as last fall. This time, the cabinet is calling on all students and staff to preventively test themselves for the corona virus before they go to campus. They come for free at the beginning of May self-tests readily available.

The cabinet calls on all students and employees to test themselves preventively

Employees and students can log in from the beginning of May via this website to request the self-tests. The tests are - for the time being - completely voluntary. However, there is currently a new bill before the House of Representatives that the cabinet can make corona testing mandatory for students (but not for teachers) in extreme cases.

And perhaps that will be necessary, because without coercion or reward, there appears to be little enthusiasm among students for the infamous cotton swab, a pilot at Avans University of Applied Sciences previously showed. A survey by Erasmus Magazine among Rotterdam students also does not bode well: more than half of the respondents would not voluntarily test for corona.

View our Frequently Asked Questions about the corona virus and higher education. 

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