The organisation of education, scholarships, residential halls were the most popular topics addressed during an online meeting with Prof. Sławomir Żółtek, the UW Vice-Rector for Students and Quality of Teaching. The Facebook live is saved on the UW profile on Facebook. The recorded broadcast is available on the UW profile on YouTube channel and the UW profile on Facebook.
All of us from the administrative staff of the University of Warsaw, we are happy that we are coming back to on-site classes. On the other hand, we also feel slightly anxious. It is quite normal in this situation. The added value of the University is that we can meet in person, we can carry out research and study. It can be only made fully available when we study on-site,” said Prof. Sławomir Żółtek, the UW Vice-Rector for Students and Quality of Teaching.
On 28th September, Prof. Sławomir Żółtek, the UW Vice-Rector for Students and Quality of Teaching, was answering questions asked by students regarding, among other things, the organisation of education at the University of Warsaw in the upcoming academic year. The meeting was held on the UW profile on YouTube (in Polish) and on the UW profile on Facebook (in English). Below, we present some of them.
The number of COVID-19 cases has been increasing lately. Therefore is it safe to go back to the University, and was the decision to go back to university well-thought?
Concerns about this matter were clear to the entire Rector’s Team when deciding to return to the University. I would like to direct your attention to two things. We were the first university to decide to go back to on-site teaching. We have decided that in April 2020. The second thing is that we need to maintain a certain level of teaching. Online teaching is an alternative, good enough for the lack of teaching at all. However, this is not a proper alternative for on-site teaching.
In August, the regulation of the Minister of Education and Science as of 25th February 2021 on temporarily limiting the operation of universities during the COVID-19 pandemic, was repealed. In this light, universities have no other possibility than returning to their regular mode of work.
Experience and experts’ opinions tell us that COVID-19 will not disappear in months. Current observations suggest COVID-19 will stay with us a little bit longer. It makes us think about a long term perspective regarding teaching and learning. Fortunately, the vast majority of students, namely 82% is vaccinated. When it comes to new students, the share of vaccinated is as high as 90%. These data concern those students and doctoral candidates who took part in a survey on the level of vaccination. This joint effort allows you to actually return to normal functioning.
Why is not everyone from the UW community obliged to cover the mouth and nose? How will the enforcement of wearing masks during classes look?
There is an ordinance of the Council of Ministers of 6th May 2021 on the establishment of certain restrictions, orders and bans due to the state of an epidemic (Journal of Laws 2021 item 861). This act points out the necessity to wear protective masks covering the mouth and nose. We are obliged to observe the law. In paragraph 25.4, the act speaks about exceptions. When it comes to students and doctoral candidates, there is no exception. In contradiction to that, there are exceptions for pupils who do not have to wear masks. Academic teachers as persons performing professional activities are not required to cover their mouth and nose while working. According to the ordinance of the Rector, it is the teacher who decides on wearing masks during certain classes. The ministerial regulation indicates that the removal of protective face masks may take place due to the possibility or quality of the provision of a given service.
Will employees, doctoral candidates and students be offered free of charge PCR tests?
Employees and doctoral candidates of the University of Warsaw can book free of charge COVID-19 RT-PCR tests until 31st December. The decision to offer such tests in 2022 will be made based on interest by the end of the current calendar year. So far, there are no plans to include students in the programme.
Who decides that selected didactic classes may exceptionally be conducted remotely?
Ordinance no. 111 of the Rector of the University of Warsaw of 16th September on the organisation of classes, examinations and credits in remote mode, defined the subject responsible for making this decision. Students can turn to the head of their teaching unit, usually the vice-dean for student affairs, who should issue an appropriate ordinance by 30th September, specifying which classes will be held online. Typically, this kind of information is available on websites of departments or their profiles on social media.
Will extramural studies be also held on-site?
Extramural studies can be held remotely. Some units are working online in this regard. We will be listening to the community because those classes that you have to attend every two or three weeks have received requests for fully remote mode, but it all depends. I have discussed the matter with my faculty professors. Some extramural students are willing to have online education, whereas some expect to come back to university. The head of the teaching unit needs to consult the Student Council and take a wise decision.
Will libraries return to pre-pandemic activities?
Yes, from the new academic year, libraries should function as usual.
Will absences from classes due to quarantine/isolation be excused?
If under quarantine, according to ordinance no. 112 of the Rector of the University of Warsaw of 16th September 2021, students can benefit from excused absences.
How can I get a place in a residence hall?
The UW Office for Welfare Support deals with the issue of registration to residence halls. So far, three registration rounds have been carried out, and there are still ca. two hundred places left. Hence the decision to start additional registration in the token system. Students can also submit an appropriate application in case a place becomes available. At present, there are approximately 2 350 places in all dormitories at the University of Warsaw. The change in their number, compared to last years, results from the resigning from 3-person rooms and returning to accommodation for residents also in double rooms. At the same time, we try to raise the standard of these premises.
What percentage of students will get the Rector’s scholarship in the next academic year?
This scholarship will be awarded to 10% of students of a given field of study – this is the upper limit of the number of people who can receive the Rector’s scholarship, set out in the Law on Higher Education and Science (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 1668). The more people receive it, the lower amount it is, so we will consult the UW Student Council about the percentage of the eligible for this scholarship.
A student from Nigeria has difficulties in obtaining a visa (being still in their country). Will the person be able to participate in the winter semester classes online?
Remote teaching is an alternative for lack of teaching at all. We want to treat all the people equally and guarantee them equal access to education services. We can support that person to obtain a visa and ask deans to get involved in the process. We see and address this problem. I would not like to differentiate between those students who are here and those who are abroad.
Do I have to pay for my studies if I am still waiting for my C1 exam in Polish? I have seen at USOS that I have to pay, and the lady at the dean’s office told me that I will be crossed out from the student list in case of no payment.
The deadlines for payments are set by deputy deans. 30th September is a binding deadline. Students who have not paid will be removed from the student list – it is regulated by ordinance no. 130, and there is an entire procedure of removal. Students should be notified before. Only after 14 days from that notification, the student will be removed from the student list. It is, however, reversible. More details are available in Rector’s ordinance no. 130.