FAQ from the university-wide meeting about the pandemic
On 11 December, the university's students were invited to a university-wide meeting over Zoom to discuss pandemic-related issues with the university's management, project management for Project Corona, and other representatives from the university.
Did you miss this meeting? Here we have summarised some of the most common questions.
Why should we conduct written examinations on campus but not be on campus for teaching; it is difficult to be motivated at a distance?
"We act to minimise attendance on campus as much as possible to reduce the spread of infection. But some exams need to be done on campus to make them fair and legally certain. The evaluating of what is absolutely necessary to do on campus is something course coordinators do constantly. We understand that it is not easy for everyone to carry out their studies remotely; unfortunately, this is how we have to conduct the teaching on the basis of current recommendations.”
How can you justify conducting written examinations on campus when society has such strict restrictions otherwise?
"Major measures have been taken to reduce attendance on campus, and work continues with a particular focus on further reducing the number of written exams held on campus. The instructions to managers and teachers are clear – the proportion of such exams should be further reduced, and the risk of infection should weigh very heavily when assessing the need for written exams on campus. The assessment is made by the course coordinator/examiner, but the manager is responsible for making decisions on the matter. Dialogue also takes place at a university-wide level on how the strict assessments should be made during the current status of the pandemic.”
Why can't the university introduce extra occasions for re-examinations?
"Both the needs and conditions for planning extra exam sessions look very different in different parts of the university's educational programmes. It is therefore difficult to give a general answer to the question. In some programmes, it means a lot of additional work to deviate from the current plan for re-examinations and add extra examinations. An assessment must be made on a case-by-case basis and in relation to the educational programme’s specific conditions.”
Many of us live in Gothenburg and have to travel by public transport to the university – how can it be okay for us to put ourselves at risk this way?
"The risk of infection is present in many places in society, not least in public transport. We understand that it can feel unsafe to ride the bus, but unfortunately we cannot change the examination form for this reason.”
We do not feel that there is a proper distance between students during written exams on campus.
"It should be at least 1.5 meters, often it is more. This distance has been judged by Smittskydd Västra Götaland to be sufficient to conduct the exams in a safe way. However, we follow up if/when there are indications that students have experienced that there are times when the distance has been less.”
Many exam supervisors are in a risk group and it does not feel okay that they have to undergo the risk of meeting us.
"A few exam supervisors are over 70 years old. Those who still work as exam supervisors during the pandemic do so completely voluntarily.”
What can the exam supervisors do if a student has illness symptoms and still comes to the written exam on campus?
"It is very serious if a student comes despite having illness symptoms. The Public Health Agency of Sweden is very clear that it is not okay to be with other people if you have symptoms. We believe that our students act responsibly and stay at home, so as not to put others at risk. Should this happen, our exam supervisors can appeal to the student to leave the room.”
Why is 100% attendance at VFU/student placements required for teacher programmes even now during the pandemic?
"VFU/student placements are an element that cannot be carried out remotely for some programmes. We have such VFU/student placements in teacher and nursing educational programmes. In the case of teacher training, it was not possible to have 100% attendance for all students in the spring. However, it is a complex question and it is not possible to answer in general what percentage would be okay to miss. If a student is sick and misses parts of a VFU/student placement, we set up an individual study plan for that particular student.”
What does the university do to adapt e.g. exams, VFU/student placements/internships and other things that are not done remotely, for those students who belong to risk groups?
"A review of our guidelines and recommendations for students at risk is ongoing. At the moment, we can refer you to the text we have on the student information about what applies if you are in a risk group.”
What about if you have relatives in a risk group?
“Unfortunately, we cannot take such a situation into account. The university's educational activities are aimed at admitted students, and we are not in a position to consider any situations where relatives are at risk of being affected by a student's studies in this regard.”
What training do teachers receive in distance learning? Not everyone seems to understand the technology.
"We have started something called Edu-Tech that brings together IT skills, pedagogical skills, AV technology, and communications in one place so that teachers get the support for the teaching they need. But it hasn't been that long since it started, and we're trying as quickly as we can help teachers with this difficult situation. It is extremely important that education continues to be of high quality.”
What technical equipment do teachers get to be able to teach remotely?
“Staff have had the opportunity to purchase the necessary technical equipment. They have received information about that. We also expect that responsible managers are making all possible efforts to ensure that teachers have the necessary technical equipment. The university acquires what is required. Periodic dialogue on the need for technical equipment is conducted between the university's management and responsible managers, as well as discussions with the entire staff in response to the pandemic.”
Can't the teachers record their lectures?
"There is nothing preventing teachers from recording lectures. However, they are not allowed to record from Zoom so that the students are included in the recording.”
The teacher's poor internet connection makes teaching poor – what requirements can we make as students?
"Teachers with poor conditions to conduct their teaching from home have the opportunity to use resources in the workplace when required. Furthermore, it is possible to raise the problem with their immediate manager based on the circumstances in individual cases in order to come up with a solution that fits. The university may, if necessary, provide a solution that is considered justified.”
Why are some teachers so good at making changes while others refuse?
"We will not lower requirements, and goal fulfilment and the requirements of the examination are to remain the same. The quality of the teaching is sometimes less good and we don't think that's okay. We do what we can to maintain quality. Adapting and training our teachers is an important element, and we support the use of new technologies.”
Do universities collaborate and share experiences; for example, are there universities that had a lot of teaching at a distance even before the pandemic?
"Yes, we collaborate with other universities. I don't think there have ever been so many meetings between the heads of different universities. All higher education institutions had slightly different starting points for distance learning; some were in a better position. We're really trying to help each other. The vast majority of higher education institutions are government agencies and are generous in exchanging materials and experiences.”
Is it okay for the university to require students to buy in e.g. webcam; shouldn’t the education be free of charge?
"If you don't have a webcam and it's not built-in, you have to get one if the examination requires it. You also need a smartphone or other device with webcam when doing e.g. Zoom-supervised exam. There is some merit to the view that certain equipment required in a campus education should be paid for by the university. But if we plan for examinations that are remote, we will have to do it in forms that involve certain technical equipment; the situation is not something that we prepared for, either as students or teachers. We will have to help resolve that situation. At the same time, we will seek solutions for individual students who lack certain equipment conditions. We need to do this on a case-by-case basis.”