To get students back on campus, law and medical faculties curb online classes

Anyone who comes to the UG to study law next year will not be able to watch recordings of lectures. The medical faculty is also curbing online classes and scrapping hybrid education altogether, even in the event of new Covid restrictions. 

Interestingly enough, the students in the faculty council agree with the law faculty’s new recording policy. Students should be protected from themselves, they say. By curtailing students’ ability to watch recorded lectures, they’re stimulated to come back to class. 

Students in year two and three of the bachelor will still be given online access to recorded lectures seven days before a course’s exam, but the recordings will not be available immediately after class. All law programmes are doing away with live streams. Seminars aren’t recorded at all.

Unfair

‘Some students think this new policy is an unfair regression of their options’, says Lucas Buma with faculty council student party Progressief Rechten. ‘But we know the other side: that this is a necessary limitation we need to impose to ensure that academic education functions fully.’

‘Some students prioritise their job over their studies’, according to Ten Behoeve van Rechtenstudenten student council member Ruben Wagenvoort. 

Topsy-turvy

That’s a topsy-turvy world, says lecturer Frank Veenstra. He gives the example of a course where out of ninety students, only one had shown up in person and twenty were watching the lecture on live stream.

And he couldn’t even be sure of the latter. ‘It’s possible they just turned on the stream and went back to bed or to work.’ The results of the course’s exam were predictably awful.

It’s not that he doesn’t understand students’ attitude, he says. ‘They see the enormous debt that’s waiting for them because of the loans system and the fact they couldn’t work during the pandemic.’

Exceptions

The board wants to prevent exceptions as much as possible; the educational director will have to decide it on a case-by-case basis. When students and lecturers ask for clarification, dean Wilbert Kolkman refuses to provide any. 

The policy for master students is less strict; the lecturer decides which material goes online and which doesn’t. ‘It’s a completely different group’, says Kolkman. They are older, more focused on their studies. There are also fewer of them, which means the peer pressure to come to class is more intense, according to Kolkman.

Compromise

This policy is a compromise, says the dean. Eager students do actually benefit from watching recorded lecturers. ‘But now we’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater just to help the majority.’ According to Kolkman, the majority of students still needs to learn how to study.

According to education director Jaap Dijkstra, first-year students’ attitude can be summed up by an experience a study adviser had when they visited a high school. ‘They asked the students how far ahead they started studying for an exam.’ Almost every student said they didn’t start until the night before. ‘That’s something we really want to change.’ 

Expensive ticket

That’s why first-year students will not be given the option of watching recorded lectures seven days before exams. ‘It’s to prevent them from thinking that’s the moment they should start studying’, says Dijkstra.

Student council member Marieke Schunselaar’s motivation was different, she said. According to her, back when Kolkman was still a lecturer of general jurisprudence, he once joked that the law students in the Pathé movie theatre had paid two thousand euros ‘for a particularly expensive ticket’ to visit his lectures.

‘I would sometimes wake up hungover at eight in the morning and those words would echo through my head. So please keep mentioning that.’

Medical faculty

The medical faculty is drawing a different line. Classes that only transfer knowledge will be put online immediately after, but only if there were more than ten students in the room. In a new guideline on online education, the faculty board writes that ten is the minimum number of students required for a good class. Lecturers will also have to turn lectures with little interaction into knowledge videos.

Classes that focus on interaction and opinions or during which lecturers discuss specific cases aren’t recorded in the first place. They’re also scrapping hybrid education, even if Covid restrictions are put back in place. 

The faculty points to the formative function of on-site education due to interaction with lecturers and the importance of contact between students. A lack of contact with fellow students and lecturers could cause students to enter a downward spiral. Students who attend class in a relatively empty room will be less motivated to come to class next time.

Nederlands

3 COMMENTS

  1. COVID is still a problem in this country. These measures will only contribute to sick people showing up to lectures (because there are no alternatives!!!) and infecting everyone else. Unbelievable that the Faculty cannot think this far.

  2. The only reason pass rates have been so low this year is because the format of the exam questions has only marginally changed from pre-COVID times while there’s only two hours to complete the exams now. If the faculty is trying to make matters worse, they’re doing a good job not offering students who struggle to rewatch the lectures to understand the materials better.

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