Fall 2020 at UCR

Community is the heart and soul of UCR. Our small, tight-knit student community lives on campus, socializes and learns here. Our faculty and staff enjoy the frequent in-person interactions they have with students and with each other. As intelligent lockdown measures continue to be relaxed by the national government, we have set our sights on the future, and what this means in practice for our (incoming) students, our community, and our teaching.

We want our community to have in-person touch points. However, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is of course our top priority. As we prepare for the next academic year, we have considered all the options available to us as it relates to teaching and learning within government guidelines. In our approach, we worked to guarantee high teaching quality throughout our program, whilst not losing sight of the importance and value of our community. And at the same time we want to adopt a model that can be adjusted should governmental guidelines change.

In reaching our decision, current government regulations, RIVM guidelines, the VSNU protocol and Utrecht University regulations have been our guiding principles. In addition, we consulted widely with the UCR community. During the conversations we asked participants to reflect on their experiences of Spring 2020 and to think ahead and consider various scenarios for Fall 2020.

In light of the foregoing, UCR will adopt a flexible teaching model as of the start of Fall 2020.

A flexible model provides for both online and limited (especially where necessary) face-to-face classes. In practice, this means that on-campus students may attend classes both online, as well as in person where and whenever possible. Students who have not been able to come to campus, would still be able to attend classes remotely using Zoom. This flexibility is particularly useful when the effects of the pandemic are forcing us to make decisions about how many students can fit into a classroom on campus. The model also enables it to function for students who may not be able to come to campus at the moment, which might be the case for some of our new international students.

What this flexibility means in practice

Participation in class is important for both students and faculty, regardless of where and how students attend. Our approach offers the potential to resume some face-to-face teaching and learning. With this model, some of our lectures could be delivered to a classroom of students, enabling the real-time student reactions and interactions on which everyone relies, others will be online and in person at the same time. And classes can be delivered online when classroom size and availability prevents in-class teaching in a safe and responsible way. This means that:

  • Courses which involve some kind of lab work, will be limited to 8 students. This will ensure that those highly practical classes can be delivered in-person, whilst adhering to rules regarding the 1.5m society. We will evaluate what this means for students currently enrolled in lab courses and will consider the possibility of running an extra lab course in Spring 2021 if needed.
  • The same accounts for courses where the total number of students are small enough to be accommodated in a single classroom whilst maintaining a distance of 1.5m between all.
  • All other courses will take a flexible approach. In some courses, the instructor may teach the whole class online, with students logging in remotely via Zoom. In other cases the instructor may split the class into smaller groups, allowing both groups to meet in-class but at different times. Or some courses may in online and in-person at the same time, with some students attending online and others via Zoom.

The flexibility of this approach also ensures that if a student cannot make it to class (think of international students under travel restrictions) they may still participate online. If an instructor cannot make it to class (think of instructors in high risk groups) they may teach the class online. And if no one can make it to class (think of a second wave in Coronavirus cases) the whole class can quickly and easily move online.

This model holds the potential of maximizing the opportunity to participate in a face-to-face learning experience under conditions of social distancing whenever possible. And at the same time, it enables students who cannot attend class in person to participate and learn safely, online. These sessions are not meant to be passive observations of a class video stream, but rather to have fully interactive engagements, including Q&A, group work (if possible) and student presentations.

Detailed information about how this model will be implemented in specific courses will be communicated in the two weeks before the start of the next academic year.

So what happens next?

Our flexible teaching model will commence at the start of Fall 2020. Both current and incoming students will thus be taught in this way. Details about the practicalities and how the model relates to particular courses will be communicated with all students in the two weeks before the start of the next academic year.

In the weeks ahead, UCR will acquire and integrate the new technologies needed in our classrooms to facilitate teaching in a flexible manner. We will also embark on a comprehensive logistics plan to ensure the safe set-up of classrooms, flow of people in and out of buildings, ensuring excellent levels of hygiene throughout our buildings and more.

Housing remains available to all UCR students. However, in order to live in accordance with the RIVM guidelines and the governmental regulations of the 1.5 meter society, Villex has implemented further measures and regulations specific to each campus location. Measures include the provision of disinfection supplies as well as the creation of one-way routing through buildings. Additional regulations provide guidelines for the use of communal areas as well as the occurrence of visits, group gatherings and parties. Guidelines on what happens if a student falls ill and needs to be quarantined are also made available for each campus location.

What does this mean for incoming students?

To get the most out of your UCR education, including both your formal education as well as learning through being part of a small-scale and tight-knit community, we encourage all incoming students to move to campus as soon as possible. While we are hoping to welcome as many of our incoming class on campus this Fall as we can, we understand there are very real limitations for some.

Chat with current students

If you still have questions about our university, program, Middelburg or anything else that you would like to ask to help you decide if University College Roosevelt is right for you, you can ask students who are currently on the program. Use the Unibuddy cards below to chat with one or all of them directly.