Universities, colleges and vocational schools may decide for themselves whether they will teach online. After careful consideration, the government does not want to issue guidelines for the use of distance education.
This was announced in a letter that ministers Dijkgraaf and Wiersma sent to the Lower House. The cabinet had promised last fall to make an "assessment framework," but this is no longer forthcoming.
Online education has taken off in the corona crisis and some institutions are seeing the benefits. They don't want to go back to the situation before the lockdowns. Politicians are watching with caution: will administrators perhaps use distance education because it is cheap?
Recently, for example, that seemed to be the case at the University of Groningen. Energy prices led to considering the use of online education and working from home.
But the government does not want to get involved in that discussion. In the government's view, there is a great deal of knowledge available in vocational and higher education "about the well-considered use of distance education" and there are sufficient guarantees for the quality of education. In addition, the institutions were already working on innovations.
Programs make their own decisions and through the participation structure the students have an influence. There are laws, but otherwise the educational institutions are autonomous. "The quality of education must always come first when considering a form of education," according to the letter.
There is a guide for senior secondary vocational education that includes tips for distance education ("You can find more information on the learning objectives and success criteria in your lesson design on this page"), but not for higher education.
And the situation in Groningen? Given the rising costs of gas and electricity, the Rijksuniversiteit wants to use energy more economically. In doing so, the institution is also thinking about hybrid working and "blended" education, as reported on the website ScienceGuide.
SP and GroenLinks submitted questions in writing, but the minister has refrained from commenting on the situation. The impact of rising energy prices on educational institutions depends mainly on whether they have variable or fixed contracts. Besides, the RUG itself must know how to organize education.
"Blended education is already part of the RUG's educational vision. Therefore there is no reason to enter into a discussion now with the RUG," the minister believes.