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Danish universities now opened for all students – just as they leave for their exams

Political agreement moves to reopen the universities, so that all students may have in-person teaching from 21 May. For most students, however the exam period has already begun.

Students and researchers finally got what they had been asking for: A full reopening of higher education programmes.

A new political agreement accelerates the reopening plan so that all students can return to classes from Friday 21 May.

The question is whether it will have any effect whatsoever.

Many students have already had their final classes of the spring semester and have left for exam preparation to bury themselves in their syllabi.

Students dream of social events

According to Rie Snekkerup, deputy director for the Education & Students unit at the University of Copenhagen, it is only students at the Faculty of Science who have more than a couple of teaching sessions left.

Chair of the student council Kevin Olesen says that he does not expect the additional reopening to have any effect on the students’ ability to participate in classes or to show up in campus reading rooms. It’s hard to imagine that only half of the students will be on campus at the same time during an exam prep period, he says.

But he is happy with the message that the politicians send with the full reopening:

»It’s OK. Now I hope that the university will open up for academic and social events and give associations permission to have events during the summer.«

»I think that, due to corona, you don’t have the opportunity to travel to the same degree, so there will be more students in Copenhagen. That’s why I hope that they open campus as much as possible during the summer holidays – within the current guidelines,« says Kevin Olesen.

Only a few exams can be converted

The political agreement does not state the extent to which the new reopening makes it possible to hold events and not least exams on campus. At time of writing, the University of Copenhagen is trying to clarify this with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

According to deputy director Rie Snekkerup, however, it is limited how many exams can be converted into physical examinations. A local reopening agreement at the University of Copenhagen states that students must be notified at least one month in advance of their exams.

Staff at the university can look forward to — or dread — the fact that they soon can return to offices.

The new reopening agreement allows 20 per cent physical attendance at workplaces from 21 May. As soon as all citizens over the age of 50 have received the first vaccine (as planned in mid-June), this figure will be increased to 50 per cent. All employees can return on 1 August.

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