Questions and answers from the university-wide meeting on the pandemic
This page contains answers to a selection of the questions that were raised before and during the university-wide meeting about the pandemic for employees last week.
In some cases, several questions on the same theme have been merged into one. Note that the answers are summarised based on the discussions that took place during the meeting.
Are you interested in the questions that came up at the students' university-wide meeting on Friday? See that compilation here (so far only in Swedish, English version will be published shortly).
Questions about employees' work environment and technology
Stäng Questions about employees' work environment and technology
Everyone has to work in front of a screen quite a lot now. There is a great need for taking breaks and it would be good if the university shows this concretely in the form of giving us, for example, one fitness hour per week?
We will take the question to HR.
The headsets, microphones, and more that most of us use are of rather low quality and not ergonomic. What do we do about this?
Everyone should be able to have good equipment and financing is not a problem. However, it can be difficult to get the right equipment. IT has worked with different packages that suit different solutions. Needs may also need to be addressed by managers within different organisational units. We need to do everything possible to overcome any obstacles in order to meet everyone’s needs when it comes to technical equipment.
How are we doing in the work to ensure that all employees receive a mobile phone? And what applies in this regard?
Our ambition is to begin giving out work mobiles in the month of January. The mobile is a work tool and it comes with a 50 GB surfing package.
More information in connection with the university’s change of mobile phone operator
More information about mobile services
Does the university help with home transport of height-adjustable desks? Is it possible to get a grant if you have bought a height-adjustable desk yourself?
There is no general answer as to whether it is possible to have the desk delivered to your home, but you can discuss it with your manager. It is not possible to get a grant to buy your own desk.
In this context, it is also worth pointing out that there are those who do not have height-adjustable desks at the university and that is a separate discussion to have with your manager in the future.
Do you have any thoughts on how employees as well as students can be inspired/strengthened in their work and studies? One could perhaps imagine interesting invited lecturers online in a wide range of topics, panel debates where listeners are invited to ask questions or the like.
There are opportunities to develop the support in which teachers can help each other. Edu-Tech, for example, has invited teachers in to an exchange of experiences during the autumn and will do so again this spring. We need to continue working with such activities in the future. When it comes to things that are not related to the pandemic, nothing has been discussed yet, but we will consider that issue before the spring term.
Read more about Edu-Tech's information and experience exchanges in January (in Swedish only)
Questions about teaching in general
I am now in my fifth "corona-digital-course" and the current and previous course is given to first-year students, who suffer more from not being able to meet their fellow students and teachers "for real." I intend to try the "meet-after-lecture" approach myself via Zoom and breakout rooms for the opportunity to talk to the teacher and to each other. That’s something you can otherwise do during a break or after a lecture. I thought if others have good tips around this then it would be good to share those in some way. Maybe a university-wide meeting about "tips-and-tricks during the pandemic" where we could share ideas with each other?
It is a good idea to offer your students such opportunities. After the student survey conducted in the spring, a webpage was developed with tips for how you as a teacher can provide support and create structure in the case of distance studies. It may offer you some further ideas.
This can also be an issue that is good to raise at a department/Faculty meeting.
Also, read more about Edu-Tech's information and experience exchanges in January (in Swedish only).
What is happening in regards to student retention during the pandemic? And are there any follow-ups about this at each Faculty?
At the university level, we can see that full-time equivalent students have increased during the year compared with 2019. More people have applied for and started courses and programmes with us. We see a slight reduction when it comes to annual performance equivalent (a measurement of completed credits), but cannot yet determine any strong connection. No specific follow-ups have yet been made on this.
We have made great efforts to remotely adapt both teaching and laboratory work. Will the university invest in distance education even when we return to level green so that we can take advantage of and develop these concepts in the future?
There are good reasons to take advantage of the experiences we have had during the pandemic. This applies not least to opportunities to develop our educational programmes with regard to accessibility aspects and opportunities as well to improve quality with the support of distance approaches. The university is now building up a support function in which both technical support and pedagogical support will be coordinated. Interest in distance education is likely to remain high, while a good campus environment is just as important. A well-balanced combination of high-quality distance and campus education based on the conditions in each education area is a reasonable goal.
Questions about exams
Have there been discussions about having "open book" exams instead of Zoom-supervised exams in PING PONG?
"Open book" is a term that can be used in different ways, but it is about which tools and resources are open/available to students during an exam. Thus, for example, it can be a take-home examination, which is a good alternative.
Do I act in violation of the syllabus if I give an "open book" examination instead of a written examinations on campus?
It depends. Open book can refer to written examinations in which the student may use certain literature etc. But in this context, where we want to reduce attendance on campus, we can assume that the aim here is rather a variant of a take-home examination. A take-home exam/open book exam at a distance would not correspond to a syllabus where the written examination on campus (salstenta) is stated as a form of examination.
Does a Zoom-supervised exam count as a written examination?
If we temporarily change course syllabi from "written examinations (salstentamen)" to "individual written exams," is it possible to conduct future exams as written exams without new changes?
Yes, then the written examination is an option.
Are there many universities that use Zoom-supervised exams? And how do we prevent increased cheating during Zoom-supervision?
We do not have an overall picture of what is being done at Swedish universities. In a Zoom-supervised exam, an identity check is performed, and then supervision takes place with another device that monitors the workspace. The exam supervisors must be able to see all those who are completing the exam.
Here is information about Zoom-supervised exams.
What is WISEflow?
WISEflow is our procured digital exam system. Read more about WISEflow.
It feels like the requirement for fairness and legal certainty would benefit from having only one exam component per course - is that something that has been discussed?
It has not been discussed at a university-wide level. The Department of Educational Research and Development (or PUF for its Swedish name, Sektionen för pedagogisk utveckling och forskning) is happy to support you as a teacher if you want to review how the course is structured, etc. We cannot deviate from the existing syllabi; we must handle this in a legally sustainable way.
Is CSN affected if students’ exams are postponed?
There is likely little risk of that as any delays regarding student results are handled through special certificates, if necessary.
Does Borås conduct Zoom-supervised exams in other places as well?
Not yet, but there are discussions about this based on the needs of the teacher education programme.
How long do the exams last into the evening?
It is mainly on Wednesdays that exams are conducted in the evening, and then no later than 9-10 PM. It is exam supervisors who are paid hourly who work then.
What if too few exams can be moved from the most intense period in early January? That we still have too many planned written exams, for example during week 2?
What happens in practice is that we have a higher risk of infection spreading at the university as we have not succeeded in planning things in such a way as could have been expected. Of course, there is a risk that we could contribute to the spread of infection through the written exams that are carried out, but by reducing the volume as much as we can, we reduce the risk. If we were to suffer from e.g. a cluster infection in connection to a written exam on campus, it is clear that it would attract media attention, in addition to the risk it may entail for individuals. Of course we want to avoid this.
Input from police education: We have tried to move our exams, but it is difficult as the police students are handled differently than ordinary students, and must pass 100 per cent to receive student financing. We would have to write individual certificates for over 400 students, as CSN does not accept certificates at the group level.
Input from teacher education: In teacher education, we have, following instructions from CSN, designed a certificate for students whose results are affected by VFU/student placements and associated examinations that could not be completed. This is so that the students' current and continued student financing are not affected.
Here you can review an overview of exam periods.
Does the university have the opportunity to refuse a person with symptoms of illness from coming to an exam, or possibly having them sit in another room?
We do not have the authority to physically reject students, but we can only appeal to them to leave the university on the basis that they have a personal responsibility to not spread infection.
Will the website be updated regarding the supervision of examinations based on the GDPR and is Zoom ok now?
The webpage on the processing of personal data and distance learning is now updated (in Swedish only).
Questions about students' work environment and technology
Stäng Questions about students' work environment and technology
What do students who have poor connectivity/mobile data plans do?
If students do not have good conditions at home for Zoom-supervised examination, we can offer a place at the university.
Is there any overall work being done regarding students' mental health?
One of the sub-projects within Project Corona has worked with the students' work environment and they have looked at this issue, among other things. Signals on this topic have also been captured in the student surveys that have been conducted (one at the end of the spring term and one now at the end of the autumn term).
Read the news item about the student survey this spring.
An analysis of the autumn student survey is ongoing.
Questions about international students
Several international students have indicated that they will have difficulty with the "tuition fee" next term due to the pandemic.
This is a concern and we have no immediate answer. This is something that needs to be addressed in the future.
If an international student accuses the university of not providing the education that was promised, how should this be handled?
There are discussions nationally about how we should handle students who want to be given back their tuition fee because they have received a distance education even though they paid for a campus education. SUHF's recommendation is that we should not pay anything back.
Will the university offer the COVID‑19 vaccine to employees?
From what we understand, that is not possible with current distribution routes.
Will this pandemic cause us to perhaps introduce some kind of exceptional routines/rules that will be relevant in the next crisis, which can very likely be a similar pandemic?
We must take with us the lessons learned from this crisis and discuss this.
Johanna Avadahl / Translation: Eva Medin