From an empty Blauwe Zaal and a deserted hall in Atlas, Rector Frank Baaijens and Ines Lopez Arteaga, since July of this year the new dean of the Bachelor College, addressed the first-year students in a prerecorded video message. Rector Baaijens said the introduction period is very important for bringing students together and building friendships. And so, he believes, it is vitally important that activities take place this week on the campus, even under these difficult circumstances, offering people the chance to meet and get to know one another.
During these activities, the first priority is safety and so it will be necessary to observe social distancing. Baaijens said that everyone will therefore understand that this academic year it won’t be possible for students to sit next to one another in lecture theaters and that online education will play a significant role. He wondered aloud whether certain current forms of education will remain the most efficient. According to the rector, the concept of blended learning will become increasingly common, being applied in a form that leaves plenty of room for group work and one-to-one contact on the campus.
According to Baaijens, as well as the current corona crisis, many more challenges await solutions to be conceived by universities. “Take as examples, the climate problem, the energy transition, the organization of healthcare, and the question of how we can continue to feed the world. As novice HE students you are better placed than most to tackle these issues and I am curious to see what your contribution will be,” he said in challenging the 2,200 students who are starting their studies this academic year.
Dean Ines Lopez Arteaga told her audience that as well as their degree programs, there is much more to discover. “Your studies are important, but so is everything you can do alongside them: board work, sports, joining a student team, or setting up a student team of your own. Get involved in all that this university has to offer you.”