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Dutch universities will provide ‘hybrid education’ after the summer

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The Association of Universities (VSNU) has published a guideline for university education after the summer: On Campus, if possible. Online because we can. The umbrella organization wants to create clarity with this message. Because university boards, teachers and students have many questions about the form that education should take as long as the corona measures are in effect.

 All university education and research has been done remotely since March 16. In the meantime, more activities have gone online. This month, all Dutch universities hold open days online. Their information is now also available digitally.

The universities are preparing for different scenarios. They resume lectures on location where this is possible in accordance with the one and a half meter rule. Where that is not possible, they continue to move to online teaching.

Not all universities have the desire to elaborate on their plans, but Leiden University was willing to explain their future curriculum. In a special corona related message on the student platform, vice principal Hester Bijl has declared that "the university is pleased  to start preparing the online educational methods from September 2020 to January 2021, and when possible in our buildings." She also hopes to welcome students and faculty to the campus as soon as possible. 

Bijl indicates that hybrid education is and remains an organizational complexity. “For each program, it is examined which parts of the education can be given physically, such as practicals, small workgroups and tutor education. We do not switch between online and on-campus education overnight. We do this step by step.”

In Groningen, too, they think out loud about combined online and live education. “Even when the biggest crisis is over, we as Dutch universities will continue to offer online education. The RUG is also participating,” says board chairman Jouke de Vries to the UKrant today. “Part of the education will take place on location and part online. We are looking for the best hybrid solution, but of course you have to arrange the physical part well.” 

Space determines the form of education

According to De Vries, the one and a half meter rule has consequences for courses in which many students have to attend lectures at the same time. “The large mass meetings, such as lectures, will then be difficult to arrange physically. But with the smaller faculties and the smaller groups, I can imagine that when physical education is allowed again, you can organize something.”

Some universities have the advantage of having more space. As a result, they think they can start physical education sooner. The University of Twente, for example. “The UT is ‘lucky’ that we have an extensive campus,” said a spokesperson. “We will try to offer as much physical education as possible. We find physical education important because our educational concept relies heavily on a lot of collaboration in small groups and intensive contact between teachers and students.”

Other universities, such as those in Utrecht and Maastricht, say that they will await the following cabinet decisions on the corona measures on 13 May before they make statements about the forms of education they will offer.


Anthropologist and assistant professor Ajay Ghandi of Leiden University says he understands why online lectures should now be given, but he fears “that this atypical situation will be normalized” by universities that are already announcing that they will offer digital lessons again next academic year. “I am very skeptical about the quality of digital education. I have discovered through this situation how important body language and good eye contact are. It is extremely difficult to get students to think when you look at a computer screen with 20 faces in small blocks. That works for a few weeks, but it is not a long-term solution “.

Source: MBS News 

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