Universiteit Utrecht
Coronavirus update 9 March
Dear students and colleagues,
This is the Coronavirus update of 9 March 2021.

The Dutch government has decided not to ease the corona restrictions for higher education yet, due to the still worrisome corona figures. All current measures for higher education will remain in force until Tuesday 30 March. Although this was in line with expectations, it is a disappointment for all of us. The government recognises the importance of easing restrictions, especially for students. It has been announced that higher education has a high priority when there is a possibility for easing the restrictions. That’s why we are preparing ourselves for that situation. We are hopeful and eagerly await the moment when we can allow more activities on our campuses.

We have asked a committee led by epidemiologist Professor Hans Heesterbeek to draw up likely scenarios while combining an increasing number of vaccinated people with a decrease in corona rates and to think of a plan how we should prepare ourselves for these scenarios. We are aware that these remain scenarios based on currently available data and insights. Developments around vaccination coverage and, for example, infection risks due to new, unforeseen mutations of the coronavirus may contribute to the need for adjusting these scenarios. However, we also need to plan our actions. At the moment we assume the following:

Block 3
  • We will complete education in the current block as currently scheduled; practicals take place on campus, the rest of the education is online.
  • Almost one hundred additional study places have been realised at Janskerkhof 2/3a and, in consultation with the Faculty of Humanities, fifty additional study places will become available at Drift 23 as of Monday 15 March. That makes a total of around eight hundred study places. We are examining whether we can realise even more study places
  • As soon as the Dutch government announces that more will be allowed in April, we will put all our efforts into facilitating that students can meet on location. The plans have been prepared in collaboration with students and the scripts are ready. The possibilities include: pilots with collaborative spaces in non-scheduled classrooms; using large lecture rooms as study places managed by study associations; enabling small-scale meetings from study associations in lecture rooms, the Utrecht Botanic Gardens and University Hall; opening up the boardrooms for student organisations (including Pnyx); and tutoring on campus. Further information will follow.
PhD defences
As soon as it is allowed, hybrid PhD defences will be started again from the University Hall.

Block 4 (start 26 April)
  • For block 4, we are scheduling 35 percent of our education on-site. This can be done safely in a 1.5 meter setting.
Unlike last autumn, the priority is not as strong on first-year students. The goal is that as many students as possible will be able to come to the campus for education, tutoring programmes or other study-related activities one day a week on average.
  • We are closely following the developments and pilots with rapid testing and are looking at what possibilities this might give us. At the moment, pilots are not giving us any extra room.
  • If the government allows it, employees who do not have to be on campus for teaching or research will also have the opportunity to work in the office again periodically.
Academic year 2021-2022
  • The starting point is that we will offer our education on campus in academic year 2021-2022, without the limitations of a 1.5 meter setting.
  • For now, as a precaution, we are making an exception for large lectures and events (more than hundred people). We do not schedule these on campus, but only online.
  • We will take the gained experience and new insights regarding remote education and working from home into account in the preparations and scheduling for the new academic year.
Possibilities to meet others
At the moment, we are still mostly at home. We realise that the need to get together is greater than ever. Therefore, we want to encourage students and staff to step outside your own home or room, literally and virtually, for encounters and recreation while respecting the corona restrictions. So, go for a walk, take a creative break, or eat online with fellow students or colleagues. For employees, this can also be facilitated within your department. At the latest at the beginning of next week, students will receive an email with new activities that are possible under the current corona restrictions.
Would you like to stay up to date on wellbeing activities, among other things? Then follow the Instagram account @utrechtuniversity. Furthermore, we would like to ask everyone to persevere for a little while longer. We would like to suggest you to call a colleague or (fellow) student to hear how someone is doing. Together we will reach the finish line.

Kind regards,
The Executive Board,

Anton Pijpers, President
Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus

Privacy statement