I am writing to let you know about the most important issues covered by Rector Choińska-Mika during her meeting with students on 14 May 2020.
You can watch the meeting with an English translation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDu6SEYdOzg
Here are the most important issues raised:
1. Continuation of the academic year and getting ready for the exams:
Only practical and lab classes will be resumed after 24 May 2020. All other should continue online so as not to bring students unnecessarily to Warsaw and expose them to the danger of public transportation and inadequate dorm sanitary conditions.
2. Course grading and exam sessions
We are supposed to use Google tools for grading students’ performance during the courses and for final exams. If you have any technical problems or are worried than inadequate equipment will prevent you from completing the semester, please let me know as soon as possible. There is still time to take care of your problems and design adequate solutions. But I have to be notified in advance.
All OGUN classes which you have taken this semester should also be completed and graded online. If there are any courses which were not carried out online or which do not have a clear info on grading, again, let me know as soon as possible.
4. Language exams
All language exams in June will take place online, included oral ones.
5. Theses defenses
In cases where closing of the archives or libraries precluded your work on a diploma thesis, there is always a three month extension (till December) guaranteed by the Rules of Study at the University of Warsaw. You may apply for it by the end of September. Unfortunately, it does not move the deadlines for applying for MA studies. We are going to be as flexible as possible, yet those of you who plan further studies have to submit your works on time to defend no later than September 2020.
6. University Library (BUW)
BUW is opening up today, 18 May 2020. It is not going to be a regular open-stock operation, nevertheless it is better than nothing. To find out when and how it is going to serve students, please visit their webpage: https://www.buw.uw.edu.pl/en/lending-and-free-scanning-from-18th-may2020/
I would like to remind you that online databases run uninterrupted so you can use them for your research easily and safely from home.
7. OSA Library
OSA Library is going to be closed for students till 24 May 2020. As soon as I know of any developments and opening rules, I will let you know.
8. Academic year 2020/2021
Rector Choińska-Mika said she hoped that the new academic year would start on campus. Yet, this is in fact nothing we can predict. It would be good, the Rector said, to have an alternative plan how to carry out fall courses online in case it was necessary.
The admission schedule needs to be very flexible this year. As soon as the matura results come, the departments will start working on admissions. Participation in the recruitment process for MA studies will be possible without a BA diploma. Though you have to present it before resuming your studies, before 1 October 2020. Actually, this is the tactic we have used so far, so no changes in the process.
10. Registration for courses
We are getting ready with the schedule for the next semester and will announce registration dates quite soon. We do not want the registration timeline to collide with the exam session so it may in fact take place quite early this year.
11. Students’ ID
The ministry decided that students’ IDs are going to be valid for 60 days after the university resumes its activities. For the time being it is 24 May 2020 + 60 days. Yet, this date may be moved by the ministry further on.
12. Evaluation of classes
This semester, due to unusual circumstances, you will also receive different evaluation forms than the ones you have been used to. We are kindly asking you to treat them seriously as they may serve as important guidelines in case we will have to go online next semester.
13. Erasmus and other exchange programs
Rector Choińska explained that by mid June we can expect some announcements concerning students’ trips abroad. Some foreign universities suspended receiving foreign students next year, some cut the numbers of students who may come, yet others moved the exchange to the following semester (spring 2020/2021).
14. Stress and other problems
This is just to remind you that in case your mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic and you need help in completing the semester and/or taking the exams, please contact BON. If you do not feel at ease to just go there and ask for help, contact me and I will direct you to the proper person where you will be taken care of. Just do not fight it all alone. We all know how stressful and destructive this situation may be and we are all ready to help.
15. Financial aid
Pandemic also frequently means deteriorating financial situation. The bad news is that there is not going to be tuition reduction for students of the evening program. Yet, there is a system of relief measures implemented by the University. If you do not qualify for a stipend due to financial situation but you can’t cope and need financial support, apply for one time relief (zapomoga) offered at the University.
16. Simplifying the defenses and diploma procedures
Rector Choińska-Mika was happy to announce that the ministry issued a decree which allows simplification of the graduation process and more online tools to replace signatures and necessity of in-person presence. The Rector said that the University online systems should be ready for June defenses.
17. Foreign students
There is a special concern for foreign students who returned to their home countries due to the outbreak of the epidemics. The University will make all efforts to help them complete the year without the necessity to travel back to Warsaw. Again, we need to know first whether it is possible and technically feasible for all of you to participate in online tests and exams. Please, let us know as soon as possible if there are any difficulties which need to be addressed and solutions implemented. Do not give up. You will not be left alone.
And the last final remark to all of you. Yes, the first fully online exam session is going to be a challenge for both you and us. It may be more difficult and more stressful but does not have to be if we get ready and try all options and solutions in advance. But first and foremost, if we communicate smoothly and openly. So, the most important request is DON’T GIVE UP. Let your lecturer know if there are any problems, ask for individual arrangements if necessary. Contact me if you do not know what to do or how to do it. Together it is easier to figure out a solution. If you need help, reach out for it. Do not fight it all alone.
Please, look around, make sure that your friends or just colleagues you were meeting in real classes hang on, that they did not disappear or stopped responding. We have always been a community of people who care. Not there is more need for it than ever.