1. Open and less open during the pandemic
The year got off to a bad start: the 2020 lockdown continued until 9 February, so distance learning and working from home remained the norm. When the curfew was added on 23 January (it would last until the end of April), measures were intensified, including adjusted opening hours for all buildings. Since that hindered education for some of our students, the BSA standard for all first-year students was lowered again by approximately one major course; students who had received a delayed advice in the 2019–2020 academic year also had to obtain fewer study credits from their first year in the 2020–2021 academic year.
After the measures were relaxed in the spring, our doors were reopened further and staff (from June) and students (from mid-May) were welcome on campus one day a week. The opening hours were also increased again. Around the summer, students received information about extra financial arrangements and compensation for study delays. These included the halving of tuition fees, a compensation scheme for Master’s students, and the opportunity to submit claims to the Profiling Fund or Emergency Fund.
Also of note is the joint initiative between Radboud University and HAN in the spring: a pilot with rapid self-tests in response to the policy from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science about maximising the opening of higher education in the 2021–2022 academic year. That pilot made it clear that a system with access tests for university education would be difficult to implement.
Lecture halls were open as often as the rules allowed and supplemented by using the halls in the De Stadsschouwburg and the concert hall at De Vereeniging. During the orientation week for new students in August, everything was done to make it possible for them to come together, including a market spread across the entire campus. “We did everything we could to bring students together on campus, while of course still adhering to the regulations”, said Gerben Smit, Director of Campus & Facilities. “Going to campus more often has a positive impact on well-being.”
“We did everything we could to bring students together on campus. Going to campus more often has a positive impact on well-being.”
The opening of the new academic year in September coincided with a relaxation of the coronavirus measures. However, in the beginning, a maximum group size of 75 people still applied to lecture halls or classrooms and the libraries. And during orientation week and shortly thereafter, GGD Gelderland-Zuid set up a vaccination station in the Erasmus building where students and staff could get a coronavirus vaccine without an appointment. All the restrictions were lifted at the end of September, and the university announced that it was happy to be open as usual again. Face masks were no longer required, the social distancing rule disappeared, and the maximum group size was no longer applicable to any spaces, including exam halls. The good news for new students was that the orientation week could go forward – albeit in a modified form – with opportunities to come together in person.
This does not mean that every student could immediately enjoy the usual face-to-face education, as the university found it impractical to create new timetables as we went along. Some education remained online. Because of the expected influx on campus, the university administration called on students to carefully observe the coronavirus measures, especially in relation to vulnerable students and staff: “Keep your distance when others ask you to”, the university urged. And “test yourself twice a week with a self-test, which can be ordered for free. If you have symptoms, stay at home and test yourself immediately.” Staff were still advised to continue working from home and to only come to campus when necessary, for example to teach.
In November, an impending new wave of infections forced the government to introduce more stringent measures that initially spared the higher education sector. However, the maximum group size was immediately reintroduced for all occasions except exams. A new stricter regulation followed, locking up the campus after 5 p.m. This applied to the sports centre and all extra activities. An exception was made for education, but it was no longer possible to close a graduation ceremony or other festive event (such as an inaugural lecture or farewell address) with a reception.
At Radboud University, like everywhere else, 2021 ended on a low note, with a new lockdown from mid-December. This led to a series of new measures through at least mid-January in the new year: all education moved online (except for practical education) and there was a ban on all education-related and cultural activities. What did not change was the possibility to take (already scheduled) exams in person, and the libraries and study workspaces remained open (with a maximum of 75 people in each separate space). Due to growing concerns about student well-being, the university emphasised that even during the lockdown, students were welcome to talk to a student advisor, student counsellor or student psychologist.
Coronavirus had a major impact on student well-being again this year, but much less of one on study results. On average, students obtained more study credits in this second year of the pandemic than in the first year. This does not alter the fact that the pandemic did cause study delays for individual students.
National Programme for Education and Research
In early 2021, it was announced that there would be a National Programme for Education and Research (NPO). A total of €8.5 billion was made available for all education sectors together, with the goal of minimising and making up for the delays in education and research caused by the pandemic. Radboud University received €26.1 million in NPO resources in 2021 and will receive another €5.3 million in 2022.
Toegekende NPO middelen
Bestuursakkoord NPO onderwijs
Extra instroom studenten collegejaar 2020-2021
Compensatie verlagen collegegeld
Regeling extra hulp voor de klas
Bestuursakkoord NPO Onderzoek
In line with the purpose of these resources, Radboud University used them to minimise and make up for delays in education and research caused by the pandemic. This not only involved delays in study progress and research, but also limiting the negative effects of the pandemic on the well-being of students and staff.
The resources from the NPO administrative agreement about education are being used to ensure the smooth intake and progress of students in scientific education, the promotion of well-being and social connection, and the reduction of internship shortages caused by the pandemic. The additional resources obtained as a result of the increase in the number of students (reference estimate) have been used to recruit additional staff. The purpose of this is to guarantee the quality of education and research and to reduce workloads. The compensation received for the halving of tuition fees for all students makes up for the lower tuition fee income. The resources from the subsidy scheme for extra assistance in the classroom were fully used to provide extra educational support (e.g., having student assistants keep track of online questions during a digital lecture).
The resources from the NPO administrative agreement about research are being used to extend the temporary contracts of researchers whose research has been delayed due to the pandemic. The table above shows where you can find more details about the NPO resources in this annual report.