Many universities across Europe plan to focus on first year students to reduce dropout rates.
As primary and secondary schools begin to reopen in stages across Europe, universities are considering reopening in Autumn. First-year students are set to be a priority across the continent, as the effects of the pandemic, especially a lack of face-to-face interaction, may cause trouble for students attempting to adapt to university life.
Institutions are concerned that an inability to physically participate in student life at the beginning of university may lead to difficulties in making friends and transitioning to university study.
At present, continental institutions are not heavily reliant on tuition fees, meaning there is less pressure to resume in-person teaching.
Different approaches are being considered throughout the continent. German universities do not expect to return to face-to-face lectures until 2021, whereas small-scale physical education is set to resume in Holland from mid-June according to a plan developed by Dutch institutions and the government on 20th May. On-campus education will take place from 11am-3pm and after 8pm to avoid students using public transport during rush hour.
Danish universities are due to return as normal at the beginning of autumn, with the exception of the large gatherings and activities traditionally associated with freshers.
In France, the government has called for staggered campus hours to avoid crushes during rush hour, as well as physical distancing between students of four square metres per student while on campus. In smaller universities, this may call for the implementation of a rota system, with priority given to first year students.
Professor Marie-Céline Daniel, Vice-President of Education and Lifelong Learning at the Sorbonne university stated:
We want them to be autonomous, but we know they are not autonomous when they come into university.