“The ban on institutional visits is lifted from 19th May 2020 for graduating students of all faculties and from the next week, the university will be opened in part or in full for all the students of other years who have practical courses to complete.”, said Dr. Béla Merkely, Rector at the online student forum.

Dr. Béla Merkely reminded the participants of the student forum that the relevant government decree assigned the rectors the authority to decide the pace of reopening the universities.

“I chose to open the university step-by-step keeping in mind that the ban on institutional visits should be lifted first for those who need it the most. Therefore, the university has been open for all the graduating students from 19th May and next week other years that have practical education will be able to start their practices as well.”, he said.

This mainly includes Years 3-4 at the Faculties of Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Years 4-5 at the Faculty of Medicine. Similar principles will apply at the other three faculties. In case of subjects that do not involve practice, online examination via Zoom is still possible. This typically affects students of the first two years. Epidemiological aspects remain of the highest priority, so with regards to logistics, it is important to avoid the formation of crowds in enclosed spaces and wearing masks on the university’s premises is mandatory.

“Our goal is to measure your performance in the most objective way possible and to provide you with the opportunity to finish this year and graduate even if among more difficult circumstances. At the same time, we will not allow the university’s high standards and quality deteriorate, the essential knowledge laid down in the curriculum will be passed on and will be assessed. However, in setting up the schedules of exams, we will take into account the time required for students who arrive in Budapest in the morning of their exams.”, Dr. Béla Merkely said to the students.

Making up for practices will require a little modification of the schedule, therefore anatomy practices will be solved with the extension of the academic year, nursing pracitces will be organised as well but can be completed at the end of the second year. The summer rotations after the third year will be organised in an intensive way in a period that is a week shorter than usual with a higher number of lessons per day.

University libraries will also open, however they will be available only for citizens of the university temporarily. Services can be used if complying with the rules regarding protective distance, hand hygiene and wearing masks, which is mandatory. The possibility to return to dormitories will be provided for students in Year 6, which are already in use as they were needed to host those involved in voluntary work. At the same time, it is important to avoid crowds here, therefore group events and parties are not allowed.

“No student shall get stranded abroad, the university provides its international students with the necessary documents allowing entry to the country. Graduation ceremonies will also be held as part of the medical curriculum, however with appropriate precautions (keeping distance, wearing masks). This special graduation ceremony can only be attended by the graduating students, unfortunately relatives cannot accompany their loved ones.”, the rector said.

Students belonging to a higher risk category can only enter the university premises after negative PCR test results. Details on the procedure were sent to the students in a Neptun message. Testing is free of charge and will be performed at screening points of the university after booking an appointment online.

Dr. Miklós Kellermayer, dean gave detailed information on questions regarding the Faculty of Medicine. For fifth-year students a special mechanism will be developed to enable them to finish all their exams, including making up for the missed practices, by 12th July the latest so that the schedule for the 6th year can be set up. For fourth-year students making up for practices will be realised in blocks. The first three years are essentially made up of theoretical education and the first two years are basically the same as those of for students of dentistry. Only practices of anatomy, physiology and propaedeutics of internal medicine have to be made up for, which are followed by exams. Patient examination is still part of the final examination at the Faculty of Medicine and students will have to take an exam in front of an examination board of five.

Dr. Gábor Gerber, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry informed that the examination period for fifth-year students lasts until mid-June, and making up for practices will start from 15th June. Written final examination will take place on 6th July and the oral final exam combined with practice will be organised on 8th, 9th and 10th July.

Dr. Romána Zelkó, dean of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences informed students that after 7 weeks of examination period, there will be 3 weeks available to make up for the missed lessons. In response to a question, she said that lab practices will be organised within the Faculty unless the regulations at Eötvös Loránd University allow practices to be organised there. The compulsory summer practice of the third year can be replaced in part or in full by volunteering and this can be done either during the summer or later on.

According to Dr. Zoltán Zsolt Nagy, dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, only students of Nursing are affected by the delayed completion of practices. They will be able to make up for the missed lessons after the examination period, when hospitals and departments will provide an opportunity for them. The goal is for everyone to complete the theoretical and practical requirements of the spring semester by the beginning of July.

Dr. Miklós Szócska, dean of the Faculty of Health and Public Administration said that the situation of students working in high risk nursing homes and homeless shelters will be considered taking the epidemiological rules into account. Thus online examination may be introduced in these cases.

Dr. Miklósné Tenk dr. Andrea Zsebe, dean of the András Pető Faculty said that the examination period for all four years lasts until 15th June as planned. Fourth-year students will have completed the comprehensive practical requirements by then and the final examination will take place on 17th and 18th June. Making up for missed practical lessons for the first three years has started and will continue after 22nd June, which can also be partially postponed and completed in the fall semester depending on the opening of the schools.

At the beginning of the forum, Dr. Béla Merkely gave a short summary on the current situation of the coronavirus and on the results of H-UNCOVER, the nationwide screening programme led by Semmelweis University. He also pointed out that the so-called reproduction rate of the coronavirus has fallen below 1 in the capital and in the countryside, except for nursing homes, and is expected to further decrease during the summer.

Pálma Dobozi
Photo (illustration): Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University
Translation: Ágnes Raubinek