In a little while, 2020 will be behind us. There was no way I could have predicted what was to come a year ago. The corona crisis has overtaken us and is still gripping us. With the start of vaccination, there is hope, but at the same time we know that we are not there yet and that 2021 will also be a difficult year. Despite this, I am optimistic. That optimism stems from my respect for the way students and staff have responded to all the constraints they have faced overnight. What we thought impossible was achieved in a short space of time. From on campus to off campus, from offline to online. Where possible, we have succeeded in having education and research take place in our buildings. Ultimately, the physical encounter is an indispensable part of an academic community.
Does this mean that after the crisis we will go completely back to where we were in early 2020? I don’t expect it. What was thought impossible has been made possible. That offers opportunities. We will work energetically to find the ideal balance between studying and working online and offline. This opens up new possibilities for and between universities. It strengthens the options to exchange knowledge and learn from each other. It is worthwhile to see what we can do for each other within YERUN in this regard.
Before that, however, I would like to wish everyone a happy holiday first. If there is a year in which such a moment of rest is deserved, it is this year. Although I am less directly involved with YERUN than in previous years, I am and will always be convinced of the importance of a network like ours. Together we will be able to take important steps forward. And as for 2021: Let’s move towards a splendid blended future together.
Article by Prof. Martin Paul, President of Maastricht University.