Bachelordekan Lars D. Christoffersen under livestreaming af hans velkomst til nye studerende. Foto: Mikal Schlosser.

Dean: Students must return to the social and academic community

DTU has chosen that all students must attend classes on Campus during the autumn semester. "It is important that we return to the social and academic community that characterizes DTU's study environment," says Dean Lars D. Christoffersen.

After almost half a year with first a complete closure and then a phased reopening, DTU is now fully reopened.

August 22, the study start for new students began, and on August 31, the autumn semester starts, where all students are back again after receiving almost all their teaching online in the spring semester.

The guidelines for a safe return to Campus during the fall semester have been announced to the students. They include, among other things staggered meeting times, and streaming of auditorium lectures to particular areas, as in some cases there isn’t room for everyone on the premises. See the guidelines here.

This year, DTU has also admitted 225 more students than in 2019, in part due to the Danish Parliament's extra grant to increase enrollment in higher education.

It has been a hard nut to crack to make room for everyone in a safe environment in compliance with the authorities' guidelines. Dean Lars D. Christoffersen explains why DTU has chosen to open fully and completely, and how the autumn semester will be carried out.

DTU has chosen that the students must receive their teaching on Campus. Why?

I am concerned that it would be detrimental to the academic and social life of the university if we were to continue the online teaching from the spring. Even though we made it work well, it is not an optimal situation, in part because there is so much of our education that takes place in groups.

Do you understand if some students are worried about returning?

Yes. I know some students are very worried about returning to Campus. To them, I would like to say that, first, we, of course, follow the requirements of the authorities fully. Also, DTU's emergency management keeps a watchful eye on the situation daily. They are in close dialogue with the authorities and have all procedures in place to contain any outbreaks.

Moreover, fortunately, you can do a lot yourself. If you follow all the guidelines - especially that you have clean hands, keep your distance and stay home if you are ill - then you have already made a huge difference—both for yourself and for DTU.

However, I also know that some are not so worried, and among them, we have unfortunately seen examples of the guidelines not being followed. This is not acceptable. They put themselves and their fellow students at significant risk. Not only does this increase the risk of infection, but it may also mean that DTU will have to close down parts of the university again. I do not believe any of us want that.

What has DTU done to avoid major outbreaks of infection?

At DTU, a lot has been done to make people aware of what we all need to do. That you have to keep clean, keep your distance and stay at home if you are ill.

The students must show up at staggered times. Some at eight o'clock, some at a quarter past, some half-past eight. We do this to ease the pressure on public transport as well as to avoid bottlenecks on Campus.

In connection with the introduction week, the new students are divided into smaller groups distributed across Campus, and we make sure that no one can be in doubt about how we behave at DTU.

Obviously, our behaviour is essential for us to keep DTU open. Therefore, we will also act very quickly, together with the authorities, to do everything necessary to contain outbreaks at DTU.

How can we maintain a safe environment with more students on Campus and with restrictions on how many are allowed in individual rooms?

The extraordinarily increased admission is a one-time situation. Next year, we are back to our familiar, quiet growth in the admission. However, I think we have found a good solution that makes it possible.

The room restrictions help to support a safe environment. The fact that you cannot sit as close as you usually do will mean that the rooms will not be filled. In return, the students are divided into several areas, where they then receive teaching via streaming. Moreover, it is not as if they have to sit wherever. There are clear rules for where they should be in connection with each course.

Do you understand if some students are concerned about the quality of their education?

Yes, and that is precisely why we prioritize both the study start and that everyone returns to Campus as much as we do. It is super important that our students return to the social and academic community that characterizes DTU's study environment.

By the way, I think that our experienced students will feel that it is far preferable to be present, rather than sitting at home, which unfortunately has been their daily routine for the past six months. That is precisely why we have chosen to open DTU fully and completely.

It obliges all of us to do our utmost to comply with the guidelines. We must avoid major outbreaks and very quickly contain the cases of infection that may occur so that we can continue to keep DTU open.