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Corona and education FSS 2020-2021

On this page you will find all COVID-19 related information on education at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. We use this website to explain our approach and we will post regular updates.

Updates

  • 26 August: Updated section 'Health and wellbeing are key' (see paragraphs in Italics)
  • 20July: Ocasys 2020/2021 is now open
  • 7 July: Added bachelor courses with maximum capacity
  • 2 July: FAQ added (scroll down to view)


We welcome you to a diverse and global community of academics and practitioners. We consider face-to-face interaction crucial in achieving these goals. However, the COVID-19 pandemic impacts on the organisation of our programmes.

Health and wellbeing are key

The Faculty of Spatial Sciences commits to providing on-campus education whenever possible. In all circumstances, we will do our utmost to welcome you in our community. The condition to all of this, is that it can be done safely. We will therefore adhere to the guidelines of the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) and the Dutch national and local authorities. This implies that the exact shape of our education will remain uncertain at least for the first semester of our 2020/2021 Academic Year. Changes may occur as these guidelines may need to change over time. Inevitably, a substantial part of our education will be organized online. However, we will organize on-campus education whenever possible. Whatever the situation you can expect academic education to the high standards we are used to setting.

Students are expected to only come to campus when they are scheduled to take part in on-campus courses, or have an appointment. Otherwise you are expected to work from home. We cannot exceed the maximum occupancy of our education buildings. Attendance may be registered, also for the purpose of contact research by the local health authorities.

All Lecture Rooms are adjusted to the 1.5 meter society. Hallways have marked walkways. Students and staff are jointly responsible for creating a safe teaching and working environment by adhering to the corona measures put in place by the university.

In what follows, we outline our approach in organising on-campus and online activities.

On-campus or online?

The transition to online education has run very smoothly at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. Within hours after the initial lockdown in March 2020, the first online lectures and practicals took place. Study delay has been kept to a minimum.

However, online teaching is not ideal under all circumstances. Many skills are best transferred face-to-face. And becoming part of a vibrant student learning environment is particularly important for those starting a new programme or those who come into the Netherlands from abroad.

To facilitate student learning under the constraints of the 1,5 meter distance society, the Faculty of Spatial Sciences selects one course per programme for each of the two teaching terms until January 2021. For these courses we strive to include on-campus elements. In this way, we aim for the best possible learning environment within the societal principles currently advocated by the Dutch government. We select courses when on-campus education is demonstrably “crucial” based on several principles:

  • The importance of on-campus education for achieving course and programme learning outcomes (the qualification function of education). Think of our design courses, and our courses which rely on tutorials and practicals.
  • The importance of socialisation - prioritising first year students, international students and students starting master programmes. Getting to know your fellow students, the teachers, the Faculty of Spatial Sciences and the wider university to find your way in these environments with confidence is important.
  • The importance of subjectification - prioritising programme specific courses. This refers to the students introduction to the field. What is it like to be a Spatial Planner? How do you work in the field of Geography? How does one conduct oneself as someone with an academic degree in Population Studies? It concerns being exposed to examples, to others with different viewpoints and finding one’s own way therein.

Therefore, we urge students to be present in Groningen to take part in these on-campus activities whenever feasible. We are aware that uncertainties remain, so if circumstances prevent students from attending, alternatives will be made available as much and as best as possible. Typically, you can expect intensive on-campus activities one day a week, with online activities throughout the remainder of the week. Besides, being in Groningen will allow you to engage with our vibrant international student community.

The same advice and guidelines apply to the master Cultural Geography / Tourism Geography and Planning. On-campus elements of this programme will take place in Leeuwarden at RUG/Campus Fryslân.

Students starting with a full BSc or MSc programme

If you are suffering from any impediments to start your academic programme in Groningen as planned, or if you have questions specific to your
programme, please contact our study advisors (study.advice.fss rug.nl). In some cases, you may be able to start your programme online and join us when you are able to. For more information refer to www.rug.nl/frw/education/introduction/. The COVID-19 crisis impacts our international students in particular, as you are more likely to suffer travel restrictions, next to other constraints. If you have any questions prior to arrival, on issues such as travel, visa and housing, please visit www.rug.nl/education/bachelor/international-students/admission-and-application/admitted-students/. If you have any further questions feel free to contact the International Office of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences via iofss rug.nl.

Maximum capacity Bachelor courses

Please note that the following courses have a maximum capacity for 2020-2021. More information can be found in our online course catalog OCASYS from July 20 onwards.

  • Reflecting on Human Geography & Spatial Planning
  • Urbanism & Planning
  • Mobility & Infrastructure Planning
  • People, Place & Culture
  • Water & Planning

Starting our programmes with a study deficiency?

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Faculty of Spatial Sciences has implemented a number of “soft cut” policies for students who want to start a master's programme in September 2020. This means that you will be admitted with a deficiency up to a maximum of 15 ECTS from the BSc or pre-master's programme that provides access to the master's programme. Likewise, there are similar policies in place for those students coming in from Applied Sciences programmes, wishing to start one of our BSc or pre-master programmes. For more information refer to www.rug.nl/frw/education/introduction/zachte-knip/

More information?

Guidelines and regulations on education during the next academic year are being developed as we speak. Whenever there are new developments, we will publish them on this page. Please bookmark it to keep track of the latest news. If you have any questions regarding your specific situation as a result of COVID-19 measures, do not hesitate to contact our study-advisors. They will be happy to help you. www.rug.nl/frw/education/study-advice

More information about COVID-19 related measures of the University of Groningen can be found on www.rug.nl/corona

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between online courses and on-campus courses?

In online courses, you can take part in all course activities online. This includes any lectures, seminars and practicals, all assignments and exams. If circumstances permit, it could be that some on-campus activities are organized for online courses, for students who are able to attend. But these activities will be non-obligatory, only supporting the main online activities, for example ad-hoc open offices or Q and A sessions. You will be able to participate in the entire course online.

Courses marked as “on-campus” will, in principle, consist of both online and on-campus activities which are designed to act as complements. There are two types of these courses. A limited number of courses has obligatory on-campus elements. Other courses have non-obligatory on-campus elements, which are still important to your successful participation and will greatly add to the quality of your experience.

Given the constraints we are faced with, no course will be completely on-campus. The online activities are added when the nature of that activity does not necessitate physical presence (such as a lecture).

Does “on-campus” only apply to practicals and seminars?

Courses which are marked “on-campus” have online elements and on-campus elements. Usually, in such courses, lectures will be online. The on-campus elements can take many different shapes, depending on the course design and subject, and may include on campus group activities, practicals and seminars, debate, design ateliers or fieldwork in locations other than Groningen.

How much of my programme will be online and how much on-campus?

In order to minimize traffic to and from campus, we try to organize all on-campus activities per programme on one day. So, in semester 1, typically, you can expect on-campus activities one day a week, with online activities throughout the remainder of the week. There may be differences between programmes, however. Furthermore, circumstances may force us to cut back, or may even allow us to do more. All information will be available through www.rug.nl/frw/corona, so make sure to check back regularly.

Will on-campus courses have on-campus exams?

Not necessarily. This depends on the exact design of testing in the course. Please refer to OCASYS for more course specific information, which will be available from 20 July onwards. Please note that the information in OCASYS may be updated after that date.

What is the difference between the obligatory on-campus activities and the non-obligatory on-campus activities?

The main difference between these activities is the alternative that FSS provides to those students who cannot participate physically, for example due to corona related travel restrictions. For obligatory on-campus activities, the alternative will also be on-campus. For non-obligatory on-campus activities, the alternative will be online.

Which FSS programmes and which courses have obligatory on-campus elements?

In our BSc Spatial Planning and Design, the second-year courses Urbanism Atelier SD4 and Landscapes have obligatory on-campus elements. In our BSc programme Human Geography and Planning, the second-year course Landscapes and the third year Fieldwork course have obligatory on-campus elements. The activities for Landscapes and the third year Fieldwork take place at the fieldwork locations.

We strongly advise you to also join the non-obligatory on-campus activities in our bachelor and master courses.

Will all obligatory on-campus activities take place in Groningen?

The obligatory elements in Landscapes and Fieldwork abroad are the fieldwork elements in these courses. Obligatory on-campus means your physical presence is required during fieldwork, whether this is on Zernike Campus or elsewhere in, or out, of Groningen. More information will be announced via OCASYS as soon as possible.

Is being in Groningen, or in the Netherlands, obligatory when attending online classes?

An online course can be followed completely online. So, presence in Groningen or the Netherlands at large, is not necessary at this point for those courses. However, being present nonetheless has its advantages. If circumstances change, on-campus elements can be added which will add to your experience. Also, we want to switch back to on-campus teaching as soon as circumstances allow us to do so. If you are in Groningen already, it will be easier for you to make this switch. And next to this, being present from the start of the first semester adds to your experience as a student in a wider sense. For example, it may be easier to work and study together with other students.

Furthermore, being present will enable you to become part of our student community. You will be able to meet new friends and fellow students, and it will be easier for you to use the University facilities as these open up. Think of the study facilities, the Study Associations of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Career Services facilities and sports facilities, aside from enjoying the city of Groningen and all it has to offer.

What happens if I cannot be present in obligatory on-campus activities?

If circumstances prevent you from joining obligatory on-campus activities, or if circumstances force us to change our plans, an alternative will be available, to prevent study delay. The alternative will also be on-campus, or on the fieldwork location. For example, these alternatives could be replacement activities organized at a later time, or taking the course next year. Please contact our study advisors via study.advice.fss@rug.nl if this applies to your situation.

Why are not all on-campus activities obligatory to physically attend?

We recommend you to attend all on-campus activities, including those that are non-obligatory, but given the current uncertainties, we do not formally require your attendance unless it is absolutely vital to attaining the learning outcomes of your programme.

When will I hear exactly what form the teaching will take?

Currently FSS is finalizing the arrangements for Semester 1. Course specific information will be announced via OCASYS on July 20th. The situation may change however, and even though we understand you want clarity sooner rather than later, there are still a lot of question marks.

Most of my education will be available online. Should I be living in Groningen?

Living in Groningen means much more than simply taking classes online or on-campus. Being here enables you to take part in our vibrant student community. You will also meet new friends and fellow students, and it will be easier for you to use the University facilities if and when they open up. Think of the study facilities, the Study Associations of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Career Services facilities and sports facilities, aside from enjoying the city of Groningen and all it has to offer.

If circumstances permit, we will be adding non-obligatory on-campus activities, also in courses designated as on-line. Being here will help you make the switch from online to on-campus education. We want to switch back to on-campus teaching as soon as circumstances allow us to do so. If you are in Groningen already, it will be easier for you to make this switch.

How will I be able to integrate in the student community as a bachelor student?

As a first-year bachelor’s student, you will be part of a Learning Community group (LC group) of around 10 to 15 other first-year students and a Learning Communities mentor, a senior student. You’ll have regular meetings with your LC group, blended on-campus and online. So, even if you cannot make it to Groningen in September, we will help you to become part of the student community prior to your arrival. Your LC group will meet frequently, in particular during the first teaching term, doing course work together but also focusing on the social aspects. Our study association Ibn Battuta is also ready to welcome you to Groningen with a mix of social and more serious activities. You can also stop by at our Study Advisors who can help you with all study-related questions and issues. In designating courses to be online and on-campus, we selected in particular those courses where the on-campus elements are not only important in achieving the learning outcomes, but are also best suited to help you meet people.

What kind of study support is available for me as a (pre-)master’s student?

FSS takes the approach that each programme, in each period, has at least one course with on-campus elements. This is true for our masters programmes as well: here too we strive to help newly starting students to become part of our community as quickly as possible. Furthermore, our study association Ibn Battuta is also ready to welcome you to Groningen with a mix of social and more serious activities. You can also stop by at our Study Advisors who can help you with all study-related questions and issues. In designating courses to be online and on-campus, we selected in particular those courses where the on-campus elements are not only important in achieving the learning outcomes, but are also best suited to help you meet people.

Last modified:25 September 2020 09.54 a.m.