Universiteit Leiden

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Rectores Magnifici: ‘Give students more opportunity to travel by public transport’

Meeting in person is crucial to higher education. It would therefore be inadvisable only to allow students to use public transport between 11:00 and 15:00. This is what the rectores magnifici of the Dutch universities say in a joint letter in ScienceGuide.

To ensure that public transport isn’t too busy at peak hours, the Dutch government wants to limit students to a four-hour timeslot. State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven (D66, Infrastructure) recently published a Letter to Parliament outlining the provisional plans.

Without physical contact, education is not possible 

This plan is disadvantageous to students, say the Dutch rectores, including Leiden Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker. The experiences of the past months show, they say, that without physical contact higher education is not possible. ‘We have now temporarily transformed our universities into online organisations, and now physical contact between students themselves and between students and lecturers has more or less vanished, we see how important it actually is.’

Studying is something we do together, write the rectores. This is an important phase in young people’s personal development. And inequality is lurking. ‘Poor wifi and a difficult home situation are disastrous to the online learning process. This crisis should not cause an increase in inequality in education.’

Investment in the future

The emergency measures that the universities have taken during crisis have made the work manageable for a short period of time. But physical contact remains essential. ‘Let students move towards this. It’s an investment in the future.’

Read the full letter in ScienceGuide (in Dutch).

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