News - October 8, 2015

Rector wants early evening lectures

Albert Sikkema

Wageningen UR has decided not to go ahead with major renovation of De Dreijen as a way of coping with rising student numbers. But rector Arthur Mol wants to experiment with teaching on campus between 5 pm and 8 pm.

The Executive Board will be keeping De Dreijen open for another three years, says Mol, but it will no longer be carrying out extensive refurbishment of the complex. The university still needs lab space in Transitorium and the Chemistry Building. The growth in the number of students means that there are not enough labs on campus. The rector eventually wants to digitalize some of the practicals and make more intensive use of the labs so that all teaching can be done on campus.

Another part of his plan is to put an end to the ‘9-to-5 mentality’ in teaching. Mol wants to extend lecture hours to 7 pm or 8 pm. ‘We now have great buildings on campus that are empty for two-thirds of the day. If we can have lectures until 8 pm, we will have gained a lot. Then we will be able to cope with the growth and students can go onto the canteen and their society afterwards.’ Mol is talking to the Student Council about how to implement this for example, one evening lecture a week for Master’s students.

The rector also wants to see whether there are potential efficiency gains in the timetable. ‘Are all teaching rooms permanently occupied? We will be looking at Wi-Fi use to measure that. Lecturers sometimes reserve a classroom for the entire period, even though they only need it on a couple of occasions. We hope this approach will let us detect that.’

The limited restoration work on De Dreijen means the university will no longer be investing millions. It will cost a couple of hundred thousand euros to keep the labs open in Transitorium and the Chemistry Building. Mol: ‘We can justify that. We’d like to invest more in teaching but we aren’t getting any extra money from the government.’ Based on demographic data, he expects the growth in Dutch Bachelor students to tail off in the next few years. That is why a limited investment in temporary teaching rooms is the best option, says the rector.

Photo: Guy Ackermans