“When we had to quickly make the last part of the courses available online at the end of the third quartile, we did some serious sprinting collectively,” says rector Frank Baaijens. “But now it’s time to make all education of the fourth quartile available online, and that takes a marathon.” Baaijens, too, has heard about lecturers who are occupied with it day and night and during weekends. “And don’t forget about the auxiliary staff at ESA and IMS for example, who all help to make this possible.”
Aren’t some of the teachers and members of the auxiliary staff in danger of suffering from too much work pressure? Baaijens can image that it is a challenging task, in particular for people with young children, “but I think it’s tough for everyone at the moment. By all means don’t try to do everything at once, in other words: don’t provide your education and conduct your research simultaneously as if nothing is wrong. Be sure to relax on a regular basis.” Board president Robert-Jan Smits expects that managers will have to keep a careful eye on this as well: “In fact, they should be able to make it mandatory.”
Incidentally, twelve courses form Q4 that require too much lab work have been moved to the new academic year.
Matter of conjecture
International students had until today to register for a program at TU/e, and Baaijens says that this year’s registration numbers are higher than in the previous year. “But that doesn’t say anything of course, because inflow in September will depend on how this crisis will continue to develop. So far, students still simply register, and they too will have to wait and see how the situation unfolds.”
According to president of the Executive Board Robert-Jan Smits, it’s all still a matter of conjecture. “That applies to us, a far as a large number of issues is concerned, but to future students as well. Naturally, we’re not alone in this. All knowledge institutions, nationally and internationally, have to wait and see what the future holds.”
What is certain though, is the cancellation of the regular Intro in August. Smits: “We’re thinking hard about alternative forms. There are a few concepts for that already, but it’s too early to say what it will look like exactly. The Intro will have a hybrid form; perhaps invite small groups to campus and provide things online.”
Baaijens points out the importance of the Intro to students. “The friendships people start during that week last many years, and sometimes extend far beyond their university days. That is why we are consulting with all student associations to see what role they can play in this. Associations also attract many new members during the Intro.”
Smits says that something will certainly be organized for students who are about to leave the university. “MomenTUm won’t take place this year unfortunately, but we will certainly not let the graduation ceremony pass by unnoticed. We’re thinking about that now. In the year 2021, when we celebrate the university’s 65th anniversary, we will turn MomenTUm into an enormous festivity.” He says that the board will also come up with an alternative for the opening of the academic year in September.
The Executive Board is very happy with the fact that the labs will reopen on a limited basis as of Wednesday 6 May. The protocols relating to this were announced on Wednesday. The managing director and the dean of the relevant department are responsible for the implementation of these protocols and for ensuring that it is safe to work in the labs. Baaijens: “We are completely confidant that this will be done properly and safely. We don’t intend to set up a kind of corona police at a centralized level that will monitor everything. We appointed someone who is corona-responsible for each building.”
The dean and the professors will decide who will be given priority when accessing the labs starting May the 6th. “We don’t expect any problems with that either,” Baaijens says. “Those who have something to complain about eventually, for instance because they weren’t given priority, will manage to find us anyway.”