Universiteit Utrecht
Coronavirus update 29 September
Dear students and colleagues,
This is the Coronavirus update of 29 September 2020.
Last night, the Cabinet announced additional measures because of the rapidly growing number of coronavirus infections nationwide. The measures will have a major impact on many people in society. An exception is made for education. We are very pleased with that. The impact of the existing measures within education on our students and teachers is already very significant. However, the new measures will affect us. In this mail you can read what the measures mean for UU.
Scheduled teaching on location continues
Higher education institutions may continue teaching on location. So education scheduled onsite will continue. The vast majority of education involves groups of less than thirty people. Occasionally (e.g. in some exams) the group size is larger than thirty people. Because the government has made an exception for educational institutions with regard to group size, and because we are complying with all safety rules, these exams can continue.
Study places remain available
Study places for students in the University Library offices will remain available. To avoid no-shows (lately many spots have remained empty) they will become available for reservation if a student does not show up after 30 minutes. Students who are unable to study at home due to the circumstances may be given priority via their own study advisor. Study places in other university buildings are available for students who need to fill time between lectures and are unable to do that elsewhere.
Location-based research continues
All location-based work, such as research in laboratories, can also continue. It goes without saying that it is crucial that we also observe all safety measures in our laboratories. The surrounding work which can also take place at home, such as preparation and processing, must be carried out from home out as much as possible.
PhD graduation ceremonies / inaugurations / graduation ceremonies / training courses will continue
Ceremonies such as PhD graduation ceremonies, inaugurations or graduation ceremonies will continue to take place on location, with a maximum of thirty people. Training sessions can also take place with a maximum of thirty people. Of course, meetings of this kind take place on the basis of voluntary participation and in a safe setting. If a training course can also take place online, this is preferred.
If you can work at home: work from home
The motto was, of course, that we work from home where we can. Recently, however, employees could work in the office from time to time and also to meet in a one and a half metre setup. For the next three weeks, we urge everyone to take a very critical look and only come to the office if the work or meeting cannot take place online from home. There is an exception to this for people for whom it is very difficult to work at home due to circumstances. In that case, there will still be opportunities to work in the university buildings after consultation with your manager.
Company outings, team building sessions, drinks etc. are cancelled
Regrettably, (informal) meetings that are not strictly necessary for our primary tasks are cancelled. This means that all company outings, farewell drinks and similar meetings scheduled over the next three weeks will be cancelled.
No exchange in second semester
Apart from the measures taken by the Cabinet, we ourselves have had to decide that UU exchange programmes for students will not take place in the second semester of this academic year. This applies to both incoming and outgoing exchange students. We are taking this decision now in order to provide clarity for students: after all, whether or not exchanges take place has an effect on accommodation (here and abroad), additional jobs, booking airline tickets, etc.
We deeply regret this and understand that it is a major disappointment. International experience is important and we know, of course, how much students look forward to a stay abroad. However, the situation remains very unpredictable and we’ve noticed that advice and colour codes for countries and regions are changing frequently and rapidly. This has consequences for the risks run by students, insurance issues and the demand (and rightly so) for advice and support at university in such cases. We therefore opt for safety and clarity. For more information about the background to our decision and possible alternatives, please click here.
We are still investigating whether individual internships abroad can take place under specific conditions. This will be decided within several weeks. (International) Degree students can start their studies in Utrecht in February (these are students taking a full bachelor or master degree at the UU in order to obtain a UU degree. For example: exchange students take one semester courses and obtain a diploma from home university).
In closing
We are pleased that the education that is now taking place on location can continue. We see how much pressure working in these times brings to our teachers, either online or on location. Now that the online open days are approaching, we would like to emphasise how much we appreciate your extra efforts. Our big thanks for that.
Over the past two weeks there have been many reports of contamination in student houses. It is remarkable to see how all student organisations are working to provide sound information and to reach all students. We understand that it is an incredibly difficult situation, especially for the first year students who are starting a new chapter in their lives in a new city.
The measures announced yesterday again represent a constraint for many of us. That is a disappointment for all of us. Because we can work less in the office, but also because there is less room for meetings in the private sphere. We saw that the expansion of opportunities has benefited many of us in recent times. Nevertheless, we ask you to cooperate fully. For others and for yourself. We would very much like to keep the exceptions made for higher education. By complying with the measures together, we hope to return as soon as possible to a situation in which more physical education and encounters are possible.

Kind regards,
The Executive Board,

Anton Pijpers, President
Annetje Ottow, Vice President
Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus

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