19 June 2020

Update #43

  PLEASE NOTE: these updates may contain outdated information.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

Update #43, 19 June 2020

In this update, we inform you about the initial measures that will be taken within the new investment programme to deal with the consequences of the corona crisis and the fight against work pressure. With a plan to provide solutions for PhD candidates and postdocs who have incurred unrecoverable research delays in recent ‘corona months’, UM is showing that the organisation has consideration for this vulnerable group of young researchers at the start of their careers. We also provide additional information about the opening of the UM buildings and guidelines for a safe return to the workplace in September, including an update on ventilation in the various buildings. In addition, we can report on the national agreement on tuition fees for non-EU students and of course we have a number of new articles and videos in the story series.

UM launches investment programme to combat the effects of corona and address work pressure

UM's Executive Board, Deans and Directors have decided on an investment programme of at least 5 million euros to tackle the major problems caused by the corona crisis and the further increase in work pressure. An extremely important and precarious issue that can be addressed with this is the delays that young researchers have incurred as a result of the corona crisis.

Potential solutions for PhD candidates and postdocs in the event of a research delay
In last week’s update, we already reported on a plan that was under development to minimise the impact of the corona crisis on the careers of PhD candidates and postdocs. This plan—which contains potential solutions and a framework for customisation—has now been adopted. Click here for the news article about this plan, from which you can also download the full plan and a public summary.

The Executive Board and the Local Consultative Body (LO) are very pleased with the speedy decision-making process at the university. As a result, for this first part of the investment programme as agreed upon in the recent collective labour agreement (CAO), half of the earmarked resources (approximately 800,000 euros in total) can be allocated for corona-related difficulties. This will provide important support for the careers of PhD candidates and postdocs whose research has been delayed due to the corona crisis. Additional months for research can be requested if the delay cannot be made up in any other way.

Limited opening of buildings

We are working from home and education is online. That will remain the general rule until 1 September. Under controlled conditions, however, there has been a little more room to use UM buildings as of this month. This is being done on the basis of plans drawn up by faculties or service centres, in which the safety of users of the buildings is the top priority and the RIVM measures are always followed. Once the plans are approved by the Executive Board, buildings can be opened to a limited extent.

PLEASE NOTE: Additional details and conditions regarding the opening will be communicated to the staff concerned by the faculties and service centres themselves.

The Executive Board has approved the opening of the following buildings:

  • Bonnefantenstraat 2 and the University Sports Centre at P. Debeyeplein 15, both from next Monday 22 June and exclusively for employees.
  • Maastricht University Office (Minderbroedersberg 4-6 and 8), starting Monday 29 June.

Permission was given previously for the limited opening of:

  • the Skillslab (Universiteitssingel 5) for third-year medical students in preparation for their clinical skills assessment programme.
  • Debeyeplein 1 for educational components offered by the Department of General Practice Medicine.
  • Research facility Scannexus, Oxfordlaan 55.
  • The following FASoS locations: Grote Gracht 90-92 for support staff from Monday 22 June, also Grote Gracht 86, GG 80-82, GG 76 ‘achterbouw’. (GG 76, the former Stercollege location, will only open from 1 September).
  • at LAW: Bouillonstraat 1-3, for employees with UM card; no educational activities until 1 September; correction of earlier statement: Kapoenstraat 2 is currently not accessible; classrooms will be available as of 1 September and office spaces as of 1 October 2020.
  • the back offices of the University Library locations Grote Looiersstraat 17 and Universiteitssingel 50, limited and phased for the provision of basic services, location-based work and physical meetings on a limited scale for internal employees.
  • Tongersestraat 53.
  • Universiteitssingel 40 and 50.
  • University Library location Grote Looierstraat 17 (learning spaces for students). NEW: At this location, the number of available learning spaces will be increased to 100 as of 19 June, to be reserved for one, two or three timeslots.

Working safely on location
UM's policy until 1 September is ‘work from home unless...'. When the measure that everyone in the Netherlands works from home as much as possible is relaxed or lifted, we can (in part) go back to work. UM guidelines have been established with the following question in mind: ‘How can we take a safe approach to returning to work in person, as long as the coronavirus poses a threat to our health?’. The RIVM guidelines are leading in this respect. More information about when you can or cannot come to work and how we deal with those who belong to a high-risk group can be found in the FAQ on the website.

Progress on ventilation in UM buildings
As reported last week, UM's Facility Services department is investigating the current state of ventilation in the buildings. This is being done with regards to the safe use of the rooms in the buildings for education and other activities. The initial results show that the ventilation of rooms meets the standards established in the UM Building Code. This means that the 1.5-metre rule prescribed by the government, in combination with the duration of use (maximum 1 hour) and time between meetings (to refresh air), can be used to determine the maximum number of people that can safely occupy each room.

By mid-week next week, we expect to have an overview of which rooms can be used safely and under which conditions. For example, in buildings in the city centre where there is no mechanical ventilation, the rooms will have to be aired out by opening doors and windows.

On the basis of the complete overview, it will be considered whether the number of classrooms should be temporarily expanded, so that we have enough safe educational facilities available from 1 September.

National agreement on temporary reduction of tuition fees for non-EU students

Non-EU students usually cannot make use of the loan facilities from DUO and cannot temporarily deregister because their residence permit may be cancelled. In order to accommodate students within this category who have experienced study delays due to government measures regarding the corona crisis and who will therefore not be able to graduate according to schedule in the 2019-20 academic year, it has been agreed at the national level within the VSNU to temporarily reduce the institutional tuition fees (high rate) to a level in accordance with the statutory tuition fee (low rate) for the 2020-21 academic year for the period necessary for these students to complete the missing components of their curriculum.

This regulation applies to third-year bachelor's students, second-year master’s students (in a two-year research master's programme) and first-year master's students (in a one-year master's programme) who have to re-enrol because it is not possible for them to make up the missing ECTS before the start of the academic year.

The practical details regarding the temporary reduction in institutional tuition fees are currently being worked out further within UM and will be communicated directly to the students involved.

New stories and video

In the story series 'We're open!' Prof. Pim Martens highlights the complex relationship between our wellbeing and how we treat animals. And SBE alumnus Timor El-Dardiry, currently First Secretary at the Dutch embassy in the US, talks about what his life looks like during these corona times.

In the video series 'UM from home' Roy Erkens (senior lecturer Evolution & Biodiversity) shares his ideas about staying active at home.