International medical students limited to one educational profile

Three out of four are in Dutch

Medical students limited to one English educational profile

Internationals who plan to do a bachelor in medicine at the UG will be limited to one of the four profiles on offer. The other three profiles are in Dutch.
9 June om 11:10 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 14 June 2021
om 13:36 uur.
June 9 at 11:10 AM.
Last modified on June 14, 2021
at 13:36 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

9 June om 11:10 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 14 June 2021
om 13:36 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

June 9 at 11:10 AM.
Last modified on June 14, 2021
at 13:36 PM.

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Seven years ago, the medical faculty divided the roughly four hundred first-year students over four groups. Their basic training is the same, but they take additional classes that prepare them for their specialisation.

The English-language molecular medicine profile, intended for students who want to focus on science, is now gradually being replaced by the Dutch-language innovative care profile, which focuses on new developments such as remote care. The sustainable care and intramural care profiles will remain Dutch-language. Only the global health profile will still be in English.

Rearrangement

The profiles were in need of reorganisation, explains pro-dean Gerda Croiset. Science, which is now the specific focus of one profile, is important for every doctor, while digital developments such as remote care called for a separate group. And because those developments are still focused on the Dutch market, the classes are also in Dutch.

Nevertheless, the new educational strategy still lists internationalisation as one of the spearheads of the medical faculty in the coming years. The faculty’s education committee questions this ambition and wonders whether ‘this striving for internationalisation’ is supported, given the current choices made. The committee also points to another objective of the faculty, the focus on ‘local outreach’, or health problems in the region. ‘For this, we need Groningen and Frisian people’, writes the committee.

Balance

According to Croiset, it is not a matter of either/or. ‘We train doctors for the Dutch job market and we also want an international curriculum.’ The latter is going very well, with ninety new internationals every year, she thinks. ‘But we need to strike a balance.’ There are a total of 410 new bachelor students each year.

Sorted waste ends up back together

‘We want people to get used to the new system’

Sorted waste ends up back together

The new rubbish bins in the UG buildings enable people to sort their waste into five categories: organic waste, plastic, paper, cups, and general waste. But what happens next?
18 May om 13:28 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 18 May 2021
om 17:45 uur.
May 18 at 13:28 PM.
Last modified on May 18, 2021
at 17:45 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

18 May om 13:28 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 18 May 2021
om 17:45 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

May 18 at 13:28 PM.
Last modified on May 18, 2021
at 17:45 PM.

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Various employees tipped off UKrant, saying the five different bins are emptied out into only two large containers. We checked out the waste collection points at a few faculties and found only two types of containers: one for paper, and one for general waste. So what’s the deal?

‘We’re in a transitional phase’, sighs Yonne Klein Kranenbrug with the services department. She is in charge of cleaning and waste collection, and she’s been fielding questions about the waste project. She’s happy that people are so enthusiastic, but ‘there have also been a few assumptions and some gossip about this enormous project’. She’d like to quash the rumours.

Sorting our waste is a nice idea, but are all the different types of waste processed separately?

It takes some prodding, but Klein Kranenburg finally admits that this isn’t happening – yet. The company that processes the paper waste also processes the paper cups, she says. ‘Because there aren’t that many paper cups being used right now, the company said they can go with the paper for now.’

As soon as the volume increases, especially when students return, the paper cups will be processed separately, says Klein Kranenburg. The cups will then be turned into toilet paper.

It’s also true that plastic is not being processed separately right now, she says. That won’t change any time soon either; at the Attero waste procession station in Wijster, any usable plastic is separated from the general waste. It’s called subsequent separation. All waste in the municipality of Groningen is processed in this manner.

Why are students and staff expected to sort their waste then?

‘Because we hope that the future will see a solution to plastic processing. This way, people will have got used to sorting the waste when that time comes.’

What about organic waste?

Organic waste is collected separately and then composted, says Klein Kranenburg. ‘It goes in the containers behind the restaurants, where Beyk also disposes of its waste.’ That’s why you don’t see those containers at all of the waste collection points. 

‘If we need more containers, we’ll put them there’, she says. ‘But it depends on how good people are at sorting their waste. The whole project depends on whether people care enough to remove their banana peel from their coffee cup before throwing either away.’

The larger bins, which were often overflowing, have now been removed from the classrooms and replaced by smaller bins in the hallways. Won’t they overflow, too?

‘Our supplier advised us on the best bin placement’, says Klein Kranenburg. ‘They’re the expert, so we defer to them.’ Since eating and drinking in classrooms is forbidden, they put the waste bins in the hallways. The contract manager has told the people who empty the bins how full they’re allowed to be. ‘If we find that we have to empty the bins every single hour, we’ll add more bins or empty them more often.’ 

It’ll take a while before everyone’s used to the new system, says Klein Kranenburg. ‘We have to be careful not to immediately add more bins. If you remove bins later, people get mad. They weren’t happy when we removed bins from offices, either.’

Oh right, you took all the bins there. That means employees have to go out into the hallways to throw out their waste from now on?

‘It’s the only way to sort your waste, isn’t it? Think of it as a free break’, Klein Kranenburg jokes. ‘Take a walk, get your mind off things. If you’re getting more coffee or walking to a meeting, you can throw out your trash on the way.’

Top Dutch Solar team might join race after all

Building the Top Dutch solar car, two years ago.

Top Dutch Solar team might join race after all

The Top Dutch Solar team, a collaboration of the UG, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, and Noorderpoort, will get to race after all. Not in Australia, as they’d originally intended, but in Morocco. At least, that’s the plan.
6 May om 10:22 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 6 May 2021
om 10:22 uur.
May 6 at 10:22 AM.
Last modified on May 6, 2021
at 10:22 AM.


Door René Hoogschagen

6 May om 10:22 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 6 May 2021
om 10:22 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

May 6 at 10:22 AM.
Last modified on May 6, 2021
at 10:22 AM.

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‘So much has happened over the past few months’, says Aymar Berkel, team captain and student of industrial engineering and management at the UG. Early February brought the news that the World Solar Challenge in Australia was cancelled because of the corona pandemic. ‘We were so disappointed.’

Together with teams from other Dutch and Belgian universities, Top Dutch came up with the idea for a new race. Perhaps in Abu Dhabi, or Dubai? In the end, they picked Morocco.

Locked down

All they have to do is map out the racetrack, but this is challenging because of corona. ‘The country is currently locked down’, says Berkel. He has faith, ‘but if June rolls around and people still can’t get into the country, it’s going to be difficult’.

In the meantime, Berkel watched part of his team leave, including the Hanze students who actually build the car. In the end, there was only one student left in the team.

‘That was a difficult time’, Berkel admits. ‘But we managed to wrangle up some students from a vocational school. They’re working hard on the car right now.’ There are advantages to this, he says. ‘Vocational students have a more practical mindset. Production is fully under way.’

Catch up

The team didn’t do anything for over a month, and they need to catch up. The car, which isn’t finished yet, also has to be adapted to the environment in Morocco, which differs from the one in Australia. The Moroccan Solar Challenge track partially runs through the mountains. ‘It’ll all work out’, says Berkel confidently. ‘We have a great electric engine.’

There is just one other problem: the language. ‘None of us speak French’, says Berkel, laughing. ‘Perhaps we should look for someone from the French department to join the team.’

Law faculty to unburden lecturers with extra teaching staff

Law faculty to unburden lecturers with extra teaching staff

The return to on-site classes may be just as stressful and labour intensive as the switch to online education, law faculty dean Wilbert Kolkman warns. The faculty board has therefore decided to hire 20 FTE in extra teaching staff.

4 May om 16:47 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 4 May 2021
om 16:47 uur.
May 4 at 16:47 PM.
Last modified on May 4, 2021
at 16:47 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

4 May om 16:47 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 4 May 2021
om 16:47 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

May 4 at 16:47 PM.
Last modified on May 4, 2021
at 16:47 PM.

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The Faculty of Law will be dealing with large numbers of new students next academic year. The civil justice course, for example, will grow from five hundred to seven hundred students. They’ll have to wait and see exactly how many students will register, says Kolkman, ‘but we’re expecting it to be quite a lot’.

Domino effect

A new survey among UG employees about working from home shows that lecturers are having a hard time already. Nearly 60 percent of participants experience extra work stress because of the pandemic. Another 60 percent says their mental health has worsened.

Kolkman fears the already overworked lecturers will completely shut down if they have to shoulder another change themselves. This would lead to other lecturers, tasked with taking over their stressed-out colleagues’ work, falling over like dominoes. ‘Some people are happy that we’re returning to normal. But others might not be able to handle another change.’

The dean is happy, therefore, that innovation has taken a back seat in the final version of the Ruggesteun plan, which was approved by the university council last week. 

Student-to-staff ratio

‘It’s impossible to do everything in small groups if the student-to-staff ration is nearly fifty.’ With that, he means that there is one lecturer for every fifty students. 

In order to keep everything balanced, the faculty wants to hire 20 FTE worth of teaching staff. This will be partially paid for by the funds from new students, and partially from the Ruggesteun support plan. 

The faculty will also spend some of its own money on the support. These are mainly funds left over from last year’s cancelled events due to corona. ‘Ultimately, I think it will improve the student-to-staff ratio a little’, says Kolkman.

Capacity

Is there even enough room for all these new people? Well, no. Certainly not if all teaching activities return to campus. The faculty board has sent a letter to the planners asking for more space. 

But Kolkman warned the faculty board that the faculty will probably have to make concessions, perhaps by letting fewer students attend lectures in person and directing them to watch them online.

Students share everything about their well-being

The previous episode of Over De Streep being recorded in the Harmonie cafeteria.

Students share everything about their well-being

Law faculty students are organising an English-language version of Over De Streep for students who are struggling in the corona crisis: ‘Now We’re Talking… About Student Well-Being’.
26 April om 17:05 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 27 April 2021
om 11:10 uur.
April 26 at 17:05 PM.
Last modified on April 27, 2021
at 11:10 AM.


Door René Hoogschagen

26 April om 17:05 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 27 April 2021
om 11:10 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

April 26 at 17:05 PM.
Last modified on April 27, 2021
at 11:10 AM.

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It’s an online version of Dutch programme Over De Streep, which encouraged people to talk about their problems and meet with others who were facing the same problems. The statements in the programme will mainly focus on how students are feeling during lockdown, and how they’re dealing with everything.

The programme will differ from the television version. Because of the corona restrictions, people won’t literally be able to step over a line. Instead, a small group of socially distanced students will raise their hand if they feel a statement applies to them. Other participants can do so from behind their computer screens.

Internationals

The law faculty and various study associations organised a Dutch version of the programme earlier this year, hosted by Gwen van Poorten. This edition will be hosted by international law professor Mando Rachovitsa, and it will focus on international students.

‘Internationals are facing different issues’, says student assessor Jolien Bruinewoud. She is organising the project in collaboration with international study association Nexus and the student parties on the faculty council.

Travel restrictions

International students who are still in Groningen are having a hard time, Bruinewoud says. ‘They can’t just go home and see their parents because of the travel restrictions.’ Internationals who did go home to their parents are having trouble because of the distance. For one, they’re in a different time zone, which is a practical problem, says Bruinewoud. ‘Some of them have to sit exams at the weirdest hours.’

Now We’re Talking… About Student Well-Being will take place on Thursday, May 6, from 3 to 5 p.m. Anyone who’s interested in participating can sign up here.  The Dutch version of Over De Streep is available on YouTube.

Bachelor-before-master rule eased up on once again

Students can still do a master even if they’re behind

Bachelor-before-master rule eased up on once again

The bachelor-before-master rule will not apply next academic year, the board of directors told the university’s faculties last week.
26 April om 13:07 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 28 April 2021
om 15:34 uur.
April 26 at 13:07 PM.
Last modified on April 28, 2021
at 15:34 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

26 April om 13:07 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 28 April 2021
om 15:34 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

April 26 at 13:07 PM.
Last modified on April 28, 2021
at 15:34 PM.

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This means that bachelor students who are just a little behind in their studies at the end of this academic year will be able to start a master programme after all, including non-UG students. The latter do have to ask for permission from the admissions board.

Last year, the university was also lenient on this issue. Students can’t be more than thirty ECTS behind – the faculties will decide on the exact number – and they’ll have to make up the ECTS by September 2022.

Implementation

The faculties spent the weekend working out the board’s decision. The law faculty hopes to be able to tell its students about the exact implementation of the rule by Monday.

The decision has everything to do with the limitations imposed by the pandemic, which has now lasted for over a year and has led to classes and exams moving online.

Renovations to old library approved

Law faculty stays in city centre

Renovations to old library approved

Despite protests from heritage protection clubs, the Groningen city council has approved the construction of an additional storey on top of the old library in the Oude Boteringestraat. This means the renovations for the new law faculty can go ahead.
15 March om 13:37 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 16 March 2021
om 13:12 uur.
March 15 at 13:37 PM.
Last modified on March 16, 2021
at 13:12 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

15 March om 13:37 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 16 March 2021
om 13:12 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

March 15 at 13:37 PM.
Last modified on March 16, 2021
at 13:12 PM.

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The zoning plan technically forbids ‘topping up’ the building, but the city council made an exception for the UG and approved it anyway, to ensure that the law faculty stays in the city centre.

Bond Heemschut Groningen and Vrienden van de Stad, two organisations that protect heritage sites, feel the city’s decision is wrong. The building will be too high. They say the council was sidelined.

Principle

The council discussed the matter for an hour last Wednesday, but the meeting focused more on the principle of whether the city council was allowed to make an exception than on whether the extra storey was a good idea.

Besides, said alderman Roeland van der Schaaf, the zoning plan does not in fact forbid it. ‘It isn’t allowed, unless there is good reason to do it anyway.’

And there is, since the law faculty historically belongs in the city centre, Van der Schaaf explained. The faculty said it would be looking for different accommodations if the extra story wasn’t approved.

Central property

‘Three of the four members in my faction studied at that faculty’, said VVD council member Geeske de Vries. ‘I’m happy it won’t leave the centre.’ Most other factions also wanted to prevent the faculty from leaving. They didn’t see the fact that the centuries old Calmershuis behind the library would be slightly obscured as an obstacle.

The law faculty currently shares the Harmonie building with the arts faculty, but has been expanding to other buildings in the city. It’s lacking its own, central property. When the public library moved to the Forum, the faculty saw its chance.

Not enough space

However, it quickly became clear that the ever-growing faculty wouldn’t fit inside the old library building. The UG therefore decided an expansion with an extra storey was in order, even though that still isn’t enough. The faculty will continue to use property elsewhere.

Earlier, Gijsbert Broekhoven with Bond Heemschut Groningen said that the heritage protectors will take the matter to court if the city approves the expansion. ‘But not until the definitive plans have been submitted.’

No World Solar Challenge for UG students this year

The solar teams at work in Australia in 2019. Photo: Hans-Peter van Velthoven/Vattenfall Solar Team

No World Solar Challenge for UG students this year

The UG will not be able to participate in a solar race this year. The World Solar Challenge has cancelled the next edition. ‘We’re still working on an alternative’, says Aymar Berkel with the Groningen team.
16 February om 15:45 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 17 February 2021
om 11:48 uur.
February 16 at 15:45 PM.
Last modified on February 17, 2021
at 11:48 AM.


Door René Hoogschagen

16 February om 15:45 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 17 February 2021
om 11:48 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

February 16 at 15:45 PM.
Last modified on February 17, 2021
at 11:48 AM.

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Normally, the World Solar Challenge is held every two years. Mostly university teams from all over the world drive the solar cars they made themselves right across Australia. Eighteen months ago, the Groningen team’s Green Lightning placed fourth in the race, which was quite a feat. 

The next race was supposed to take place in October, but because of the pandemic and Australia’s strict policy to keep the virus out, it has been cancelled. 

Broken up

‘I’ll admit I was pretty broken up about this’, says Aymar Berkel, third-year student of industrial engineering & management at the UG. He’s this year’s team manager. He was supposed to spend two years on the solar race project, full time. Not because he wants to boast about it on his CV, though: ‘I’m just doing it because it’s so cool.’ 

The rest of the team took the cancellation pretty hard, too. For some, it’s more than just something fun to do; it’s their internship, or their thesis project. The question now is whether the team will be able to stay motivated. ‘If the team quits, we won’t even have a car.’ 

The last six months were spent on designing a completely new car. ‘The rules changed, so we had to’, says Berkel. But there’s a good chance that Green Lightning 2.0 will never see the light of day.

Abu Dhabi or Dubai

‘We’re still talking to other universities and stakeholders to see if we can come up with an alternative.’ His team has plenty of ideas, like organising a race in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, but it’s no use if the other teams don’t like it. ‘You can’t have a race with just three competitors. That’s more of an exhibition. That’s not what we want.’ He hopes to know more in a few weeks.

In 2019, the team mainly consisted of students from the Hanze University of Applied Sciences. One team member, Friso Resink, was from the UG. After the race, he was employed to recruit new team members, which means there are considerably more UG students on this team: eleven, to be exact. The team also consists of thirteen Hanze students, and two from Noorderpoort. 

Oops: exam posted online in the middle of the night

Questions hastily changed

Oops: exam posted online in the middle of the night

The exam for the Civil Law 2 course was postponed by an hour because the exam was accessible on Nestor in the middle of the night.
12 January om 14:04 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 13 January 2021
om 11:25 uur.
January 12 at 14:04 PM.
Last modified on January 13, 2021
at 11:25 AM.


Door René Hoogschagen

12 January om 14:04 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 13 January 2021
om 11:25 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

January 12 at 14:04 PM.
Last modified on January 13, 2021
at 11:25 AM.

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Hundreds of students were ready to take the exam on Tuesday morning when they were told it had been postponed. It turned out the exam had been posted on Nestor overnight, coordinator Evelieke Slob confirmed, which meant the students could have potentially seen it.

Students pointed out the mistake to the course’s lecturers, after which the exam was cancelled. The lecturers changed the exam in great haste, allowing the exam to take place the same morning.  If the mistake had been discovered after the exam had been administered, the whole exam would have been invalid.

The law faculty doesn’t yet know why the exam was accessible on Nestor before it was supposed to be.

Heritage clubs protest law faculty’s alterations to library

The law faculty’s current location is not big enough.

UG threatens to find different location

Heritage clubs protest law faculty’s alterations to library

In a letter to the city council, the municipal executive board says that if the Faculty of Law isn’t allowed to add an extra storey to the former public library (OB), it will look for a different location.
6 January om 11:15 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 11 January 2021
om 16:09 uur.
January 6 at 11:15 AM.
Last modified on January 11, 2021
at 16:09 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

6 January om 11:15 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 11 January 2021
om 16:09 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

January 6 at 11:15 AM.
Last modified on January 11, 2021
at 16:09 PM.

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Most of the Faculty of Law is currently located at the Harmonie complex, which it shares with the Faculty of Arts. After the OB’s move to the new Forum, the law faculty felt its premises would make a great new location, but only if they could add an extra storey to the building to make room for all students and lecturers. 

But cultural heritage association Heemschut Groningen and Stichting Vrienden van de Stad fiercely oppose the addition. The two heritage foundations have called upon the city council to refuse the alterations.

Waiting for approval

The alterations are scheduled to be finished by the summer of 2023, says Hanneke van den Berg with the law faculty board. For more information, she refers to VGI, the UG’s property management department, which in turn refers to the communications department. 

What’s this about the plans to look for a different location? ‘The UG has submitted an application to alter the building and we’re awaiting the city’s decision. I can’t speculate as whether they’ll decide in our favour or not’, says spokesperson Gernant Deekens.

Municipal board

The municipal board writes to the city council that they want to approve the addition. It cites the increase of students due to the pandemic as a reason. More high school students graduated and fewer will be taking a gap year, which means there will be more first-year law students.

But Heemschut Groningen’s secretary Gijsbert Boekschoten says he’s not sure if the extra room is even needed. ‘Perhaps they’ll actually need less room in the future due to online education.’

In the letter, the mayor and councillors write that the building was originally going to have an extra storey. At the time, the extra storey was not built because it ‘didn’t fit the plans’. The city architect even consulted the now 85-year-old Italian architect Giorgio Grassi, who designed the building, about new addition plans.

Zoning plan

While this is all well and good, the addition would increase the building’s height by 5 metres, which the zoning plan does not permit, say Heemschut Groningen and Vrienden van de Stad. The executive board is overstepping the mark by deviating from the plan in such a visible location without proper argumentation, says Boekschoten. ‘It’s not as though the building is in some back alley.’

‘They’re basically undermining the municipality’s spatial planning policies’, he says. ‘The council is in charge of that, not the UG or some architect. The first priority is a decision, so we can object to that if need be.’ If it comes to that, says Boekschoven, Heemschut will not hesitate to take the matter to court.

Practicing your pharmacy skills can be done online

Practicing your pharmacy skills can be done online

The ‘practice pharmacy’ that enables pharmaceutical students to gain experience was switched to an online version last week. But going from helping real-life patients at a desk to online consultations is a big change.
24 November om 12:19 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 November 2020
om 12:19 uur.
November 24 at 12:19 PM.
Last modified on November 24, 2020
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Door René Hoogschagen

24 November om 12:19 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 November 2020
om 12:19 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

November 24 at 12:19 PM.
Last modified on November 24, 2020
at 12:19 PM.

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‘On the first day, a patient came in and she was visible to everyone in the pharmacy on this big screen. And she had a question about a bacterial yeast infection’, Claudia Dantuma-Wering says, laughing. 

Dantuma-Wering is a pharmacy lecturer as well as the coordinator for Gimmics (Groningen Institute Model for Management In Care Services), a game that teaches master students how to run their own pharmacy, including inventory management, doctor consultations, and the occasional upset customer. 

In order to make everything look as real as possible, groups of students would normally decorate a small room in the building at the Antonius Deusinglaan to look like a pharmacy, with flyers and empty medication boxes. They would sit in that room every day, for five weeks. Now that the corona crisis has prevented this set-up, the game has moved online.

‘It’s good for them to learn how to do patient consultations online’, says Dantuma-Wering. ‘They might have to do it for real in the future.’ 

Important skills

Gimmics was created at the UG twenty years ago, but it has been used at seven different universities, ranging from Brisbane to Vilnius, under the name Pharmacygame. Dantuma-Wering explains that leadership and responsibility are important skills in a pharmacy setting. Every day, a different student plays the boss.

Pharmacy student Nora Oving has just helped out a patient who had a headache. On the web cam, she shows the room she’s in. Her five fellow students wave. They’re seated far apart in an otherwise unfurnished room; the doors and windows are open. They did create a counter: a few tables pushed together, with a plastic screen to shield the students from the handful of actors who will stop by.

‘It feels very different’, says Nora, who once played a patient in the fake pharmacy and is now part of the Heinen Pharmacy team. ‘It doesn’t feel like a pharmacy. We’re here in person for only half the week. The rest of the time we’re at home.’ They have to clear the room every day because other people need it after them, which means they can’t decorate the place. ‘It’s kind of impersonal.’

It’s harder to read people’s facial expressions

Pelle Posthumus works at competing pharmacy Goedbloed. He’s having a hard time keeping track of all the online documents. ‘We’ve got a hundred tabs open at once. But I probably just need to get used to it. This is just the first day.’

‘I would’ve preferred talking to people in person rather than through a computer screen’, says Eyub Demirkol with pharmacy Van de Werf. ‘It’s harder to read people’s facial expressions and I’m never quite sure if they understand everything I say. You can’t read people’s body language either, or whether their feet are tapping, for instance. In real life, it’s much easier to see those signals that convey something is wrong.’

Nevertheless, it still feels kind of real, Nora says. ‘We’ve got a lot of orders in and we’re talking to real health care providers and suppliers. That makes everything a lot more realistic.’

Spotty connection

Dantuma-Wering says there haven’t been many issues, apart from the internet connection being a little spotty sometimes. ‘We’ll get interference or accidentally talk over each other.’ It’s difficult to say where the issues come from. It could be the students’ laptops or the Wi-Fi in the building. ‘Eduroam doesn’t work everywhere.’

It was a lot of work to turn the game into an online version, says lecturer Christa de Vries-Vingerling. ‘There were eight or nine pages of issues we needed to take care of.’ All prescriptions had to be available digitally and the students weren’t allowed to see all of them at once, just a few each day.

Everything for the actors had to be made available online as well, ranging from the evaluation forms to the pharmacy visits themselves. The visits are now done through Collaborate. ‘That works really well for receiving foreign actors’, says De Vries-Vingerling.

New website

Next year, Gimmics wants to design a new website which incorporates these changes. ‘One advantage is that we’re using much less paper. That was something we’d been working towards’, says Dantuma-Wering. 

She does miss talking to her colleagues in the game room, which used to be bustling with people. ‘I do think the students appreciate being able to get together for those three days a week.’ Nora confirms. ‘We’re having a pretty good time around here. Don’t we?’ she asks her teammates. In the background, people agree. ‘We do.’

Students win appeal in cheating case

Students win appeal in cheating case

Two UG students have successfully appealed their punishment after the exam committee invalidated their exams for cheating. The committee should have provided more evidence. This means online exams will have to be changed.
17 November om 16:48 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.
November 17 at 16:48 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

17 November om 16:48 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

November 17 at 16:48 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.

René Hoogschagen

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Exam committee chair Frank Verstijlen is ‘surprised’ at some of the Examination Appeals Board’s decisions. The board pointed out, among other things, that there was no evidence provided of WhatsApp conversations to substantiate the committee’s decision. ‘Obviously, it’s difficult to provide that’, says Verstijlen. ‘We’re not some domestic intelligence service.’

‘The system we created to administer online exams is showing cracks’, Verstijlen says. Law faculty dean Wilbert Kolkman says things needed to change anyway. ‘Online exams were new to us at first, but now we have to stay one step ahead of students.’

More assignments

Kolkman thinks the answer lies in more oral exams and more assignments for courses with fewer than sixty students. ‘The board is willing to invest funds to support lecturers in this endeavour.’ 

When it comes to larger exams, his priority is to have more in-person exams, ‘divided across multiple sessions if need be’. But if that proves impossible, the dean still considers postponing or proctoring exams options. ‘But proctoring is expensive, and we’d rather not postpone.’

Whether the decisions, which were published on the UG website earlier this month, will affect other faculties, Verstijlen can’t say, although he suspects they will. ‘The appeals board will want to be consistent.’

Different questions

Both cases involved students of criminal law. In an answer in the Criminal Law 3 exam, one of the students talks about a necklace rather than an earring, which was mentioned in the question. The exam was set up so that students were presented with variations on questions. One of the variations concerned a necklace.

The student explained that in her family, they never talked about earrings, but rather about necklaces, and that she had simply confused the two types of jewellery. Neither the lecturer nor the exam committee believed this, and the student was punished: her grade was nullified and she was excluded from taking the resit this year.

In June, the other student submitted an answer to the Criminal Law 1. The font changed in the middle of the text. He also discussed a topic that was only mentioned in a different variation of the question. Both the examiner and the exam committee felt this indicated he’d copied and pasted the text from someone else’s answer. He received the same punishment as the first student. 

It is not possible to dispute the appeals board’s decision.

Faculties sound the alarm on cheating

‘Board needs to crack down on this issue’

Faculties sound the alarm on cheating

Last week, the faculties of law, arts, BSS, and FEB sent the UG board an urgent letter. The faculties are worried about students cheating on online exams.
2 November om 16:16 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.
November 2 at 16:16 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

2 November om 16:16 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

November 2 at 16:16 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.

René Hoogschagen

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Wilbert Kolkman, dean of law, says people voiced their concerns during earlier board meetings. Then, it was discovered that a large number of students had cheated on three FEB exams, which were then nullified. ‘That’s when we decided we needed to band together and do something.’

Priority

It’s not like they think the board isn’t doing anything, Kolkman says, ‘but they need to prioritise this. That’s what we’re doing. Let’s all do something about this right now.’ ESI, the UG educational support centre, has qualified people working for them, he says. ‘Maybe they should be going full steam ahead in situations like these.’

The law faculty has also had issues with students cheating on exams. Its exam committee recently concluded that students cheated significantly more often during the last period of last year. Two students in particular communicated through Facebook during multiple exams, and dozens of others were caught cheating in minor ways.

Worried

The faculty has cracked down on the cheaters. Concerning the two students and their widespread cheating, their marks for the block in question have all been invalidated. They have been banned from taking online exams for a year. The other students simply have to retake the exams they were caught cheating on. 

The faculty is worried that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that they failed to detect other forms of cheating. But a statistical analysis of several bigger law courses taught during the last block last year showed that it wasn’t all that bad. 

Alternative testing methods

After they’d sent the letter, the faculties received a short proposal from the educational advisers at ESI, Kolkman says. One idea would be to no longer organise exams to take place at the end of each block, but to give students an assignment in block 2 and create a big exam that combines courses at the end of block 4 ‘when the pandemic has passed’.

‘We have to make do with what we have’, says Kolkman. ‘Teaching has already started, so we can’t just change everything. But we can discuss alternatives. I’d prefer it if we had something at the ready should we ever need it.’

Law faculty clamps down on cheating

Photo: Reyer Boxem

Two students were caught five times

Law faculty clamps down on cheating

Two law students have had all marks from their online exams invalidated after they were caught cheating on five different exams. They are also banned from taking any online tests for the rest of the year.
20 October om 13:23 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.
October 20 at 13:23 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

20 October om 13:23 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:22 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

October 20 at 13:23 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:22 PM.

René Hoogschagen

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During the exams, which took place in the last block before the summer, the students communicated over Facebook chat, says exam committee chair Frank Verstijlen.

They’re not the only ones who cheated: the exam committee received more than sixty reports of possible cheating during the previous academic year. Verstijlen says this is a lot more than the year before. Most of the reports concerned the last exam period.

Approximately fifty cases of cheating have been confirmed. Some students have appealed their judgements.

Voided

These students will also have their marks voided, although only for the exams they were caught cheating on.

They will also be excluded from future online exams, albeit not as long as the two big fraudsters. In almost all cases, the cheating student will no longer be able to graduate with honours.

Cheating is a serious offence, the faculty wrote in a message to all students. ‘Especially for students of law, who are being trained to serve the law.’

Moral appeal

Last year, the law faculty decided to postpone the third block exams and move them to the fourth block because of the impact of the corona crisis. This would allow the faculty to adjust to administering online exams and anticipate any potential cheating.

In the end, the faculty decided to change all courses with more than seventy-five students to open-book exams. Berend Wezeman, who was dean at the time, said the questions would concern ‘cases that required some thinking’, rather than just easy facts students could look up. Smaller courses were poised to switch to oral exams or essays.

The faculty board also issued a moral appeal to students by having them sign a pledge to not cheat. ‘We decided to trust our students’, Wezeman said. He did also issue a warning: ‘If you violate our trust, we will not hesitate to take action.’

Cancel exams

Students also have to sign a pledge for the first exam period of this year. The exam committee has sent out an email, warning students that anyone who cheats exposes their fellow students to the risk of online exams being cancelled altogether.

Since in-person exams will be impossible for the foreseeable future, this could mean all exams will be postponed indefinitely, or the university could start using controversial proctoring software during online exams.

It would allow examiners to keep an eye on students during online exams. Verstijlen says this is an option. ‘But we’d prefer not to.’

Survey: 40 percent of employees are having a hard time

Photo: Tim Gouw via Unsplash

People who work from home can’t relax

Survey: 40 percent of employees are having a hard time

A survey from the HR department this summer showed that two thirds of UG staff are worse off than before the corona pandemic. 40 percent report that their mental state has worsened.
8 September om 16:57 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
September 8 at 16:57 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

8 September om 16:57 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

September 8 at 16:57 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.

René Hoogschagen

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The survey asked almost six thousand employees, including student assistants and scholarship students, about their well-being during the pandemic. 40 percent of staff filled out the survey.

Work stress

The employees whose mental state had deteriorated cite work stress, the lack of colleagues, and uncertainty about the future as some of the causes. Other examples are loss of motivation, lethargy, depression, and problems sleeping. The pandemic has also made people worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones.

The report says that more than half of employees complaining about work stress being even worse is ‘concerning’, since the staff survey held in 2019, before the pandemic, showed that even back then half of employees were already suffering from work stress.

HR has concluded that the measures that were taken after that survey should be implemented even faster. 

Lack of involvement

Another interesting result, the report reads, is that several employees feel that management is lacking in decisiveness on various levels. The lack of involvement on the part of the UG, team leaders, and the board of directors is also something the respondents criticised. 

‘Employees said that the positive communications about “becoming the best online university in Europe” completely ignores the increased stress they’ve been experiencing’, the report reads. ‘They feel that management has no idea how the employees really feel.’

Office

Many employees are having trouble working from home. 40 percent doesn’t even have a proper home office, lacking things like a good chair, screen, or good computer. 

Others miss the peace and quiet of working in an office; one third of employees have children under the age of 16. They especially complain of a disrupted work/life balance, since their kids need attending to during the day and employees tend to continue their work at night, sometimes until very late. 

Group pressure

Respondents also say they feel either group pressure or pressure from management to keep working outside of normal office hours. Working from home, employees miss the physical difference between work and private life, HR writes, which means they’re unable to relax. A total of 60 percent of the respondents said they were experiencing this. One respondent was quoted as saying: ‘There is no home, only work.’ 

Nevertheless, some of the respondents say the current situation is an improvement. They have an easier time planning their days, don’t have to travel as much, and enjoy the structure of online meetings. They also have more free time. 

Back to the office

Two thirds of employees can see a future in which they work both at home and at the UG. However, this should not be enforced, some of them warn. A quarter of respondents doesn’t want to work from home ever again.

However, many of them say that working at the office should be safe in accordance with RIVM guidelines: properly ventilated, no more shared offices, and preferably no more flexible workspaces.

There is a difference in responses by Dutch employees and internationals: while several Dutch respondents ask not to be patronised too much, some internationals would like restrictions that are more severe than what the RIVM advises, like enforcing the use of face masks. ‘We have to make sure that both groups feel comfortable’, HR writes.

Actions

The results still need a thorough analysis. This analysis will be done for each separate department.

Based on the preliminary results, the university has expanded the laptop scheme and allowed people to borrow furniture from the office to use at home. The UG has also hired a vitality coach and published tips on how to ergonomically work from home. 

UG invests 5.5 million in online education

Additional staff and improved software

UG invests 5.5 million in online education

Over the next two years, the UG will invest 5.5 million euros in improving online education. Half of the money will be spent on 22 FTE in support staff, and another 1.5 million will be invested in software and equipment.
7 September om 13:30 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
September 7 at 13:30 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

7 September om 13:30 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

September 7 at 13:30 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.

René Hoogschagen

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The investment is meant to capitalise on what the UG has learned about online education because of the corona crisis. ‘Students and lecturers currently feel that the quality of online education pales in comparison to on campus education’, the board of directors writes in its Educational Action Plan. The investments are explicitly meant to have ‘long-term relevance for the UG strategy’. 

The plan revolves around the concept of blended learning, where classes will be taught both online and on campus, with some students attending in person while others take the class at home. The UG also wants to make sure students can easily switch between online and on campus education.

Implementation

The university will hire student assistants and experts to help lecturers set up online classes and tests. The UG is also spending 800,000 euros on better software.

Additional classrooms will be made available for recording and live-streaming classes. The UG has ordered the build of 125 carts that come equipped with a large screen and other necessary equipment. The university will employ people to help work these polycom systems.

Exams that cannot be administered online will take place in the Aletta Jacobs hall. The planning will take corona measures into account. The university will focus on getting students in and out of the hall as quickly as possible. 

Facilities

The UG will provide facilities to teach students and lecturers to navigate the online environment. They’ll be creating a digital platform where people can talk about their experience, offer webinars, and creates online education and testing modules.

People already have access to help for online testing. The facilities for recording and streaming classes should be available by the second semester. Lecturer support, the website, and webinars will be functional in block 3. The deadline to implement all the other facilities is the end of this academic year. 

IT multi-annual plan

Another 800,000 euros has been set aside for any new measures in the second year. 

The money for the plan partially originates from the quality agreements for housing and lecturers support for next year. These are now almost entirely depleted. The biggest part, more than four million, will be taken from the IT multi-annual plan from the previous period and the coming one.

Who absconded with the ornament off the Academy building’s facade?

Who absconded with the Academy building ornament?

‘I think the handwriting is a man’s’, says University Museum director Arjen Dijkstra. He picks up the box that contained the returned ornament and shows us the note that came with it. The thief clearly wants to stay anonymous. But can they?

1 September om 12:35 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
September 1 at 12:35 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.


Door René Hoogschagen

1 September om 12:35 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.

By René Hoogschagen

September 1 at 12:35 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:21 PM.

René Hoogschagen

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The package we’re talking about is the same one that rector magnificus Cisca Wijmenga recently tweeted about, thanking the sender, who wrote that twenty years ago, they’d accidentally broken an ornamental piece off the Academy building’s facade. They were now returning it, with their apologies.

Pigeon food

The handwriting does look masculine: angular and messy. The thief writes that they were a student in the year 2000, which would make them in their late thirties or early forties. However, they refer to the UG as RUG rather than RuG, which is how it was written back then. Could that mean they worked at the university after they’d graduated, or that they were connected in some other way?

Let’s look at the box the ornament was shipped in. An old label reveals it once contained pigeon food, specifically for turtledoves. A different label says the package was shipped at 11:34 a.m. on July 17. It took another month before Wijmenga got around to opening it, since she wasn’t in her office because of the pandemic and because it was the summer holiday. The date doesn’t tell us much, unfortunately; pretty much everyone had time to clean out their attic in the middle of summer.

The ornament itself is made of heavy iron. ‘These things don’t just come off by themselves. It takes some doing’, says Dijkstra. The leaves and the protrusion in the middle are bent. Dijkstra says the thief’s claim that the ornament simply broke off when they were swinging from it is nonsense.

Renovation

Last year, it was discovered that the Minerva statue on the Academy building was holding a broom instead of a spear and that Mathematica was missing her gold compass. It’s entirely possible these things were stolen during the same renovations in 2000. Perhaps the thieves will return those, as well. ‘That would be great’, says Dijkstra. ‘I’d love to have them back.’

The museum director doesn’t really know how to feel about the whole thing. Recreating the ornament probably cost at least a thousand euros, he thinks. ‘Then again, it’s just one of those things that happen in a student town.’ It’s a little funny, he supposes. ‘We don’t all have to be goody two shoes, obviously. But I don’t encourage this kind of behaviour.’

Dijkstra saw an opportunity for an exhibition. The ornament will be displayed in the University Museum’s window, together with Minerva’s broom, among other items.

Have you ever stolen anything from the uni? Bring your object to the UKrant offices and tell us all about it!

The note

Dear sir/madam,

When I was a student at the UG around the year 2000, I did something very stupid: the Academy building was being renovated and one night I climbed the scaffolding (I was following a drunken friend in an attempt to save him from certain death). At the top, I somehow thought it was a good idea to swing from an iron ornament. The thing broke off and I was so scared that I took it home with me. The next day, I woke up with the ornament next to my pillow. I felt so guilty that I kept it for the past 20 years. I am now returning it to you. I’m sorry for the inconvenience…

Best wishes, 

An Alumnus