Science faculties lack lab space

The expected increase in students at the science faculties is threatening to lead to a great lack of lab space. In the worst-case scenario, this could lead to extra classes between five and seven p.m.
By Christien Boomsma / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

The Faculty of Science and Engineering is expecting a 20 to 30 percent increase in students next year. The growth will mainly affect the pharmacy, biology, and life science & technology programmes. Not only are these programmes are switching to English, which will increase the number students, but several other programmes in the country have switched to a numerus clauses policy.

‘This means we could face a shortage of at least seventy fume hoods’, says FSE managing director Klaas Poelstra. In order to make room for the fume hoods – which allow people to work with dangerous substances – the laboratories will have to be expanded considerably.

However, the student increase is not a sure thing just yet. Especially when recruiting international students, schedule makers have to work with an estimated catch rate of only 20 percent. ‘But the pre-enrolments do indicate a considerable increase.’

Safety

Last year, lab space occupancy was so high that safety became an issue, and so the safety rules were amended. Now that the student numbers will increase even more, actions need to be taken before 1 September in order to relieve the pressure.

One option is to expand class hours to seven o’clock in the evening, says Poelstra. ‘But we’ll only do that if it’s absolutely necessary.’ This decision would not only lead to students and lecturers being in the buildings longer; it would also require receptionists, security personnel, and many others to be there after hours.

Peak moments

Poelstra is hoping to be able to collaborate with the Hanze University of Applied Sciences which, just like FSE, suffers from a lack of lab space during peak moments. ‘Last year we couldn’t collaborate because our peak moments overlapped. But there have been some curriculum changes this year, so we’re trying again.’ The schedule makers at both institutes are in contact concerning the collaboration.

Should ‘borrowing’ space fail again this year, it might be a good idea to ‘be open about our common problems’, says Poelstra. After all, a temporary building would require a considerable investment, especially when the peak moments only last a few weeks. ‘If we both need an extra building, it might be a good idea to work together.’

The faculty would like to expand their number of fume hoods with at least one hundred, in order to prevent any issues in the future.

Nederlands

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