19 March 2020

Update #16 COVID-19

 PLEASE NOTE: these updates may contain outdated information. Please read the latest information.

Update #16: 19 March 2020, 19.45

Today's update includes information about the Binding Study Advice (BSA), a look at the initial experiences with online education, a blog by our president in his personal capacity, and an urgent call to maintain social distance from each other, inside and outside the university.

Postponement of Binding Study Advice possible

Maastricht University is having an extremely eventful academic year. For some time now, a lot has been asked of teachers and students. A sudden switch to online education, worries about your own health or that of your loved ones, worries about how things will progress in the near future—we are facing all of these things.

In this type of situation, it is conceivable that more first-year bachelor's students than normal will soon fail to meet the Binding Study Advice (BSA) requirement for the 2019/20 academic year, no matter how hard they have worked to do so. We want to handle this graciously. These students will be granted a postponement and the opportunity to obtain a positive BSA in the 2020/21 academic year. Students who do meet the BSA requirement will of course receive a positive BSA this academic year.

The procedure will be as follows:

  • Students who meet the BSA requirement within the 2019/20 academic year will receive a positive BSA this academic year;
  • The postponement applies to students who started in the academic year 2019-2020;
  • Everyone who has not met the BSA requirement at the end of the year will be 'retained' (=postponed). They will receive a recommendation, but it will not be binding;
  • In the case of a postponed BSA, an additional requirement is formulated in addition to the BSA requirement, in which the study progress will be monitored in year two. This responsibility lies with the study programmes. The aim is to give students clarity about what the conditions are for them to be able to continue following the study programme, so that they can still receive a positive BSA in the 2020/21 academic year;
  • In this case, students are asked to formulate an action plan in consultation with their study advisor. The study programmes are aware of their duty of care towards the student and will facilitate this support. 
  • For FHML programmes without a BSA, but with grade requirements for transition from one study year to the next, this will also be applied generously. The chance of study success is paramount for us.

Anxiety about the coronavirus - how do you deal with it?

Today, UM hosted a second 'Corona-webinar', this time on the issue of 'Dealing with anxiety and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic'. In the live chat, master’s student Steff Nagel spoke with experts and students about their anxieties and how to deal with the stress and uncertainties that come with this situation. You can watch the webinar online.

Students in need of psychological care can contact the UM psychologists. You can find more information and support on UM’s overview page about wellbeing initiatives.

Finally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has also published tips online.

Initial experiences with online education

The first week of online distance learning is almost over. Teachers all across the university are working hard to organise and implement this new reality in the best way possible. We asked some of them about their experiences. “PBL is mainly about getting students to engage with problems and challenging them to put their minds to work. If the past few days have taught me anything, it’s that you can do that online, too,” says Prof. Teun Dekker of UCM. You can read about more experiences from various faculties here.

Maintain social distance!

One of the spearheads of Dutch policy in the fight against the coronavirus is keeping physical distance from one another (at least one and a half meters). This prevents a rapid spread of the virus and a potential overload of our hospitals. We urge everyone in our community to adhere to this recommendation. Wherever you are, in the supermarket, in the city, in the park, stick to the guidelines—for your own health and the health of others.

Civic initiatives by students

Fortunately, it is also possible to be socially conscious of your fellow human beings while respecting social distance. For example, a group of law students has set up a platform (in Dutch) for small buisinesses and employees who want free legal advice on the consequences of the COVID-19 virus for their company or job. Match Maastricht started a Facebook group: Connect and Support Maastricht, to facilitate mutual contact. And there are many more like these. Heartwarming!

‘Martin’s blog’ launched

During this COVID-19 crisis, we are being bombarded with information, by official news channels as well as on social media. Often this concerns medical issues and sometimes it involves unfiltered and even dangerous information. That's why UM President Martin Paul, has launched a blog on the UM website, where the clinical pharmacologist shares his thoughts and tries to shift attention away from the hype and onto scientific evidence. These are personal opinions, intended as food for thought for the academic community, and not formal messages from the Executive Board. Read the first blog post.

Belgian cross-border workers

Because of the coronavirus, the Belgian government is only allowing 'necessary trips'. Travel between home and work is considered necessary when it is not possible to work from home. For the time being, the Belgian government does not indicate that an employer's declaration is required to prove that the work cannot be done at home.

In principle, such a declaration is therefore not necessary, but anyone who feels uncomfortable travelling to work without a declaration from the employer that he/she must be present can request this type of document from his/her manager. Managers have a dedicated format at their disposal with which they can issue the declaration.

Additional costs

We realize that in the current circumstances some of you might incur additional costs. We assume that students first try to have these costs reimbursed through the appropriate channels​. Should that approach unexpectedly fail, please notify us. We will then determine internally (with the six faculties) and externally (with other universities and with the Netherlands Ministry of Education) how we can deal with these cases appropriately and within the means of the university.

UM online

UM has very rapidly set up a whole host of digital facilities to make sure everyone can work remotely. This has (largely) been a success. At present, all (important) systems for education, research and support are accessible online and everyone can learn and work from home.

We try to provide as many tips & tricks as possible. Since we are now making full use of all our digital systems, we would also like to ask everyone to be especially mindful of security. Make sure that your own devices have the most recent (antivirus) updates. You can find advice on keeping your own and our digital environment safe on the UM website.

If you do encounter problems with online lectures, applications or other digital resources while following education, please check our online education website for support.

We ask employees to contact the IT service desk in case of problems.​