For the next few months, the university will only be teaching online, but rector Arthur Mol says the campus may open next academic year, particularly for practicals and perhaps also for teaching in small classes.
For the rest of this academic year, only online education will be offered, says Mol. So, like period 5, period 6 will be ‘online only’. Teachers are working continuously on designing and delivering online education, says the rector. As a result, 263 of the 275 courses in period 6 are being run online, and 12 courses have been cancelled.
First-year MSc students are already looking forward to their internships and theses next year. But due to the lockdown in many countries, most of the planned overseas internships cannot go ahead. So many Master’s programmes now have the option of doing a second thesis instead of an internship, says Mol.
The university also wants to support Bachelor’s students who are not able to finish their degree when they expected to. Staff are putting the finishing touches to a system in which Bachelor’s students can make a start on a Master’s programme next year even if they haven’t quite finished their Bachelor’s degree.
Meanwhile, in the face of all the uncertainty, the Executive Board is making plans for education at the university next year. As far as circumstances permit, the university is going to offer practicals and education in small classes in the new academic year. The education department is working on adapted plans with fewer students in laboratories in line with the ‘one-and-a-half metre society’ the Netherlands is aiming at. The university also hopes to offer all thesis students access to the laboratories. And if circumstances allow, there will be more on-campus education.
Mol: ‘We are working continuously on developing online education and supporting teachers in implementing it. We want to build more flexibility into the education system, to make it easier in future to switch between online and on-campus education. To make this possible, the Executive Board also wants to invest in the methodology of online education. ‘Online education demands different approaches to face-to-face education. We will have more time for training in that next academic year.’
The Wageningen approach ties in with those of the other Dutch universities. Together, the universities have started a campaign to make clear to prospective students that university education will continue in 2020/2021, with the slogan: ‘On campus if we can, online because we can’.