Thousands of students like Sara, who studied social sciences in Lausanne, never returned to university normally. One aspiring lawyer put it succinctly: “For the past two years, we’ve been spending more time at home in front of the screen than in the classroom.” It’s comforting for Sarah to know that next week will be a new chapter in her student life. “I have the impression that these online courses have made me feel a little stuck at home. And when I came back, a kind of laziness took hold of me, which went hand in hand with my lack of motivation.
Other students, like 22-year-old Louise, a second-year law student at the University of Neuchâtel, don’t see a chance to return to class with a good eye. “I personally found my rhythm thanks to online courses. No need to prepare to go to campus, attend classes at a time that suits me best, or gain precious hours of sleep. “I see almost nothing but positive aspects.”
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Prefer to go back to class
Although each student has their own idea about online courses, each university has decided to prepare for the start of the school year in their own way. The management of Unil wants to take time to evaluate the place of distance education. “We will start the transition year. We will move from a suffering state to a state of online transmission of selected and thoughtful lessons. This requires a mindset that we cannot exercise during a pandemic. In the coming weeks and months, we will carry out different types of consultations with the aim of achieving a real institutional policy in this area for the next year, “says Giorgio Zanetti, vice-chancellor for education.
Like Sara, 17,000 Unil students will have to return to the Dorigny site more often than they have in the past two years. Because if all the courses were registered a few months ago, then next Tuesday, the day the academic year starts, it will no longer be available. “It’s a reality, there will be fewer online courses. We leave the choice of teaching to the different faculties, says Giorgio Zanetti. In addition, we really want to advocate for a return to face-to-face for all. The result is that for many exercises, the option has been to remove the posts.
A somewhat controversial decision by the Unil Federation of Students’ Associations, who hoped campus life would continue with a vengeance. “We had many discussions with representatives of different faculties and the idea of returning face-to-face convinced us after two years of learning without social contact,” continued FAE Secretary General Hannah Wonta. : “But we expected more online courses. This is useful for reviewing difficult material and working on the side. We will evaluate the first semester and, if necessary, we will make proposals in Christmas.”
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The vice-chancellor for education in Lausanne attributes the tendency to reduce enrollments to the fear of seeing the quality of learning decline. “There’s automatically less interaction online, which requires different lesson preparation. In addition, university education is based on encounters. The common work is less and less connected is a fear that revives thoughts like the advantages of online resources”, Giorgio Zanetti analyzes, but insists that no institutional decision has been made yet. acceptance.
A benefit for elite athletes
In the benches of the University of Geneva, the situation is perceived differently. Face-to-face returns are encouraged, but an important device is installed to store courses online. “With the rectorship, we decided not to implement anything. What we have set up for the 2023-2024 school year is that the recording is automatically scheduled so the teacher doesn’t have to worry about it. Finally, we’d like to schedule notes for all major courses. But let’s be very clear: a teacher who does not want to do this can leave the system, “explains Micheline Louis-Courvoisier, vice-rector of the institution, who sees many advantages associated with this alternative. “Students like this model because it is more flexible and very useful, for example, work alongside training for those or elite athletes.”
From the beginning of the academic year, Unige plans that three times as many courses can be watched remotely, live or recorded. But then, isn’t it scary that the corridors of the campus will turn into a desert area? “What worries us is that there is a kind of desocialization. It is then up to us to bring students to the site by making the complex multi-user friendly. Not to forget, there are also seminars where the courses are in smaller groups and require physical participation.
UniNE in Neuchâtel is waiting for students to return to campus. If, as a rule, courses are recorded for later viewing, it will not be possible to follow the course more live and therefore communicate with the rest of the group. “We invite students to return to class. The strength of our university is nearby. We are sure that creating close contacts between students and teachers is a significant added value,” the comments state Nando Luginbühl, Head of Communications.
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