The response by these two universities anticipates new measures to contain coronavirus. In principle, universities and universities of applied sciences are no longer delivering education in their buildings up to and including April 6th, but the situation could go on well past this date.
Leiden en Maastricht are erring on the side of caution: if it turns out after May 1st that students and lecturers can again come together, then it may be possible to resume the teaching of practicals and skills.
Other educational institutions have not yet announced an extension of this kind. But they are not naive. It is “realistic to suppose” that this won't be over soon, writes Wageningen University, for example. Groningen has already taken the anticipatory step of extending the period up to and including April 10th.
The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences has not yet heard of any vocational higher education (HBO) institution that is switching fully to online education for the remainder of the academic year, but of course this could happen, says a spokesperson.
Similarly, the other universities are aware of the likelihood of this scenario, so others may follow suit and implement the decision taken by Maastricht and Leiden. “I see everyone striving for continuity in uncertain times,” says spokesperson Bart Pierik of universities' association VSNU.
Indeed, this is what motivated Leiden to act, says a spokesperson. It is only sensible to avoid totally transforming education a couple of times in the space of a few weeks. “Such changes only burden students and lecturers unnecessarily,” says the spokesperson, “and we don't want to do that.”