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24 April update: online exams and events

24 April 2020

Last Tuesday, the Dutch government announced that only very few of the measures currently in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic will become more lenient. This leniency is not directly related to higher education. Previously, Prime Minister Rutte had already asked us to prepare for a ‘1.5-metre society’. How does this affect Avans? Read this message to find out.

Online classes and exams

Avans had already decided previously that no educational activities would take place in its buildings in any case until 1 June. Everything takes place online to the greatest extent possible. Considering the small steps taken by the government in relaxing the corona-related measures, we do not expect to be able to use our buildings for large-scale educational activities before the summer holidays. Therefore, we will continue to give the classes online until then. The current regulations do not make any allowances for competency-based education. We will let you know as soon as any changes have been made to these regulations.

With regards to exams, these will be administered online to the greatest extent possible. We assume that we will need to comply with the ‘1.5-metre distance rule’ after 1 June, when we will want to (and will hopefully be permitted to) give exams in the Avans buildings. As a result, less physical space will be available for exams – approximately 25% of the amount of space available in the ‘normal’ situation. We are not permitted to expand the space currently available for exams by making use of external locations, such as events and sports halls. This has to do with the fact that people will need to travel to reach these venues and, in doing so, increase the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

We want to avoid postponing tests until the new academic year to the greatest extent possible because this would increase the work and study load and will probably cause unwanted delays. On top of that, we want the hard work of our students as well as our lecturers to be rewarded with the successful completion of the academic year. This is why we are currently focusing on online assessment procedures. Of course, quality is our highest priority in this.

Types of online assessment procedures
There are many different possibilities with regard to online assessment procedures. In the past few weeks, we have already applied for various alternative types of tests and exams, including open-book preliminary examinations, oral exams or hand-in assignments such as essays. We are also looking into the possibilities of online assessment procedures without surveillance. In this, we are appealing to the responsibility of each individual student to refrain from committing fraud. The departments and exam committees will be setting to work in the next period to come in drawing up the exam schedule based on the various possibilities with regard to remote examinations. The exam dates will remain unchanged. As is customary, each department will inform its students about the chosen assessment procedure.

Online proctoring
Online proctoring is the remote surveillance of students during exams through the use of such tools as webcams. Considering the need for online assessment procedures, we have conducted an in-depth study on the feasibility of the large-scale application of online proctoring. Avans has, however, come to the conclusion that online proctoring is not desirable. There are too many risks at present, both with regard to privacy and technology. The Board of Governors has therefore decided to refrain from the application of online proctoring this academic year. However, we will proceed with a number of pilots with a view to exploring the long-term advantages of proctoring.

Events

A number of large-scale events will either be postponed indefinitely or organised in a different form.

  • The Higher Professional Education bicycle tour on 28 August will be postponed until 2021.
  • Also, the opening of the academic year will not take place on 24 August as usual. We are currently engaged in seeking a festive online alternative.
  • The introduction festivals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Breda, to be held on 3 and 10 September, respectively, will also not take place in their customary form. A festive start of the academic year is important to all students. This is why we and our partners in both of these cities are preparing digital festivals.


Neither will it be possible to hold graduation ceremonies and large-scale orientation activities at the departments. At least not in the way we are used to holding these. Of course, we do invite the departments explicitly to contribute their ideas about small-scale or digital alternatives for graduation and introduction festivities, taking into consideration the ‘1.5-metre distance rule’.

Activities related to choosing a study programme

The online Open Evenings in March and April were a great success. Further to their evaluation with the various academies, we have decided to refrain from organising another Open Evening, however. Instead, we will be bringing all the possible activities related to choosing a study programme organised by the academies to the attention of all interested parties. Taster sessions and shadowing days will take place digitally.

Video message from Paul Rüpp

Chairman of the Board of Governors Paul Rüpp has recorded a video message for staff as well as students. Please watch and share this video!

 

Last updated on 1 May 2020.