Organisation of studies during the state of emergency

Last updated on 18 March 2020
 

Suggestions and solutions posted on 18 March 2020

  • Conditional defence” (defence of thesis before all courses have been completed) can be allowed only for courses postponed due to the emergency situation. A deadline should be given to complete the missing course(s), and by that date the student needs to have received the missing results (i.e. the defence result remains in force by that deadline). The minutes of the defence will be on hold (are not approved) until that deadline and the deletion of the student from matriculation register is not started. If the student fails to complete the courses by the deadline, the minutes of the defence are cancelled.
     
  • Explanations on how and when to make the changes in the syllabus. We ask all teaching staff to make the changes by 25 March. If there is no final solution by that time, it is appropriate to enter the information that there is a break in the studies and the date when new information is given. If you have informed your students of changes via other channels, please also post them in the Study Information System (ÕIS), to ensure that the key information on studies is available to students in one channel. The changes can be posted in the field “Other information”, where you can enter a text of up to 4000 characters. The information is added to ÕIS1 and transferred to ÕIS2.
     
  • No exceptions are made in the payment of tuition fees. If a student notifies us that they are unable to pay the tuition fee in due time due to the emergency measures taken in their home country or in Estonia, the faculty has the right to allow, in justified cases, payment of the fee in instalments, according to an agreed payment schedule. It is also possible to postpone payment until the end of the emergency situation.
  • If you have not found a suitable tool for online seminars or lectures, or you experience problems with a system you currently have, consider using MS Teams as it is very easy to use.


15.03.2020

The restriction of face-to-face studies due to the state of emergency poses a lot of problems, which need to be solved on a rolling basis. We are starting with this right away. Many good suggestions and questions have been sent via the programme directors’ mailing list. We will try to answer them now and continue over the morning coffee at 10:30 on Monday; we could have similar morning coffee meetings every week. A Moodle course on “Organisation of studies during the state of emergency” has been created so that all teaching staff and other employees can ask questions and share solutions. Forums for different topics are available in the environment. We try to provide solutions for all questions that are in our power to answer, within a few days. The current situation is definitely a situation in which we can learn from each another. Go to the course https://moodle.ut.ee/course/view.php?id=10008, log in, choose a topic and if you want to post a new subtopic or question, choose “Add topic”.

1. The university’s general position is that we try to continue studies, as much as possible, at the same pace and in the same volume as planned. The form and method of studies must change, and we have to be ready to give up our usual good practices and learn new ones. We will support each other in this. Postponing things lightly and accumulating a lot of work for summer months is not a good solution.

2. We will offer lectures and seminars online, using the existing environments; seminars can also be conducted in the written form in a forum. Many of you have already experienced it before, but not all. Here a bold good start is half the battle. Look https://www.ut.ee/et/oppimine/soovitused-oppejoule-auditoorse-oppetoo-asendamiseks-e-oppega. You are recommended to seek help from instructional designers, IT helpdesk, and definitely from colleagues who are more experienced. We kindly ask all teaching staff members who have already created and taught online lectures and seminars, please also help your colleagues!

3. Changes in a course, which the Study Regulations would normally not allow (changing the schedule, the form of assessment, etc.) but which would not affect completion or postponement of the semester may be made by the staff member responsible for the course, in consultation with the programme director, if necessary. It is understandable that some lectures and seminars may be cancelled in the first weeks. It is important that responsible teachers inform the students of their course of what will happen in the course, and where, how and when. We ask you to initially plan the changes up to 1 May and enter the changes made in the syllabus in the Study Information System at the earliest opportunity. Further instructions on how to make the changes in the Study Information System will be given soon.

4. Practical classes must be postponed, their volume reduced or creative solutions found to do things differently or replace with other forms of study. It may not always be possible. Here the staff member responsible for each specific course together with the programme director must make the decision.

5. As it is not reasonable and possible to amend all the university’s regulations and especially in a situation where we do not know how it should be done, our current position is that during the state of emergency, the senate could give the right to make exceptions to implementing the bylaws governing the academic affairs at the university (Study Regulations, Admission Rules etc.) to the deans and the vice rector for academic affairs. The senate meeting is planned to be held on 27 March.

6. The library is currently closed but we are trying to find solutions soon to make it possible to borrow books and digitise materials.

7. For those who are not graduating this year, it is possible to consider extending the studies into the summer (generally no longer than until the end of June) or discuss whether certain actions could be postponed and undertaken in the autumn.

8. The student’s study period lasts until the end of August, even if the semester ends in June. Therefore, studies can also be offered in July; it is important though that the students would have time for rest. We must take it into account that students may have planned to work in summer. Some students’ study period may also be shorter due to academic leave. If the postponement of practical classes or other changes create problems for such students with completing their curriculum, the programme director will make a request to the dean to extend the study period of these students. If necessary, the Office of Academic Affairs should be consulted. Changing the academic calendar will be decided later, if necessary.

9. UT students who are studying abroad this semester but have had to interrupt their studies abroad should contact the academic affairs specialist or programme director to ask whether they can continue studies at the UT. If it is not possible, we ask the academic affairs specialists to inform the Office of Academic Affairs (Ülle Tensing) of such cases. We consider extending the studies of such students by a half-year; decisions will be made when it is clear how many people and how many ECTS it concerns.

10. Individual laboratory experiments necessary for the graduation thesis will be classified as research and may be continued if all measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus are taken, including, of course, staying at home if symptoms of illness occur. In case the graduation thesis requires using interviews for data collection, this can be done using electronic channels. One-on-one or small-group interviews could be allowed in face-to-face settings, if precautionary measures were taken.

11. If it is necessary to change the requirements for completing the curriculum (for example, replace a final paper with exam), please inform the Office of Academic Affairs (Ülle Hendrikson). Decisions regarding such requirements will be made by the vice rector for academic affairs.

12. State examinations are postponed and consequently, we will probably have to postpone admission deadlines for the first level of higher education. It will be more complicated if state examinations are cancelled altogether. In this case, we will have to make a common decision about which solution to use with the government and other universities who use state examinations (Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tallinn University of Technology). We have already started discussions with the government. We will make specific decisions about admissions when the situation has become clearer.

13. When we organise admission to master’s and doctoral studies, we will definitely have to take into account how the first and second-level graduations progress. We can make conditional admission decisions (the decision will apply if the student has received the degree) both for the UT graduates and those of other Estonian

universities. The majority of applicants are graduates of earlier years, and the extension of the admission period is not necessary for them. To put it shortly: we will change the admission dates, if necessary, but today it is too early to make this decision.

14. Clearly, due to the extraordinary events of the last week our admissions to English-taught programmes will be seriously affected, and not only due to the state of emergency in Estonia. So far, the admission process went at a very good pace. The admission to master’s studies will end on 15 March and to bachelor’s studies on 15 April. We will conduct the initial analysis of admissions to the master’s level on 16–17 March. If necessary, we can organise an additional admission later – most likely in May or June – and only for EU/EEA students. For others it would be too late, considering that the studies will still start in September.

15. There have been questions about postponing the payment of tuition fees. Currently there is no need to change anything about this. We will continue work, just using a different form of study. If due to the state of emergency (postponed practical classes etc.), the completion of courses is delayed, causing a payment claim for missing credits, we will have to make changes.

16. The next deadline for the payment of tuition fees in English-taught curricula is 20 March 2020, without exceptions. If a student notifies us that they are unable to pay the tuition fee in due time due to the emergency measures taken in their home country or in Estonia, the faculty has the right to allow, in justified cases, payment of the fee in instalments, according to an agreed payment schedule.