Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Students,
This letter will be longer, as it contains a lot of important information, but it does not solve all uncertainties that we have in connection with the upcoming academic year. We know a lot of your questions, we are trying to address them, but some of them will still be left unanswered for a while. Here is what we already know.
It is certain that soon, on 1 October, we will inaugurate together academic year 2020/2021 – 53rd academic year at the University of Silesia. Memorable year! Happy is he who beheld thee in our land! – we may quote Adam Mickiewicz, our national poet, extending the phrase to include ‘in our land and around the world’. We basically spent our last semester studying in front of the screens, grateful for the technology that allowed us to maintain the continuity of education. In the upcoming semester we would like to open the University for you a bit more, but we assume that a majority of education will still be carried out remotely. We are closely monitoring the situation in schools and its development will be an indication for us regarding the final decisions we take for the organisation of education in the upcoming academic year.
Below you will find some useful information about the functioning of the University in these still exceptional circumstances. For more clarity, we divided the message into the following groups of issues:
- COVID-19 Risk Levels
- Organisation of Education
- Student Residence Halls (Dorms)
- Adaptation Days
- Rector’s Awards
- Academic Year Inaugurations
1. COVID-19 RISK LEVELS
We have developed a simple system of informing the entire University Community about the epidemic risk level at our University. This is because we think that it is not enough to define the method of conducting classes in the upcoming semester, but we also have to prepare for the potentially changing situation during its term. The table divided into four levels defines the operating methods for all groups forming the community of the University of Silesia. Detailed guidelines for each risk level are available on https://us.edu.pl/universities/status-zabezpieczen-covid-19/.
2. BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORGANISATION OF EDUCATION
In academic year 2020/2021 a significant part of your classes (including lectures and language courses) will be conducted remotely. Classes that cannot be conducted remotely (e.g. laboratories and workshops) will be carried out directly in classrooms, on-site, subject to necessary safety measures. Moreover, we are convinced that newly admitted students should have the possibility to begin at least selected classes in the premises of our University, to get to know the University, their lecturers and fellow students. We are currently working on preparing the formula that will enable you to have classes on-site at each study programme. Detailed decisions in this regard will soon be taken and announced by specific dean’s offices on the relevant faculty websites.
The beginning of classes for first-year students has been planned for 12 October, whereas for students in the later years for 5 October. Regular classes will be preceded by the following online trainings recommended to all students:
– training in the field of the existing safety rules,
special trainings (e.g. preparing for participation in remote classes),
– adaptation meetings.
Let me also remind you that mandatory electronic registration for foreign language courses and physical education takes place at the beginning of the academic year.
- Language courses
Students who continue education in academic year 2020/2021 must register either to their previous foreign language groups or – only for important reasons – to other foreign language groups. Each potential change of the group takes place at a student’s written request (zmiana grupy – wniosek.doc) submitted at the Online Registration Office of the Foreign Language Teaching Centre (email@example.com). 2nd and 3rd year students who continue education as part of 3rd “foreign language” module must register either to their previous foreign language groups or – only for important reasons – to other foreign language groups, with the same language and level.
Student who begins a foreign language course chooses classes in one of the foreign languages: English, German, French or Russian, provided that they are available under the curriculum of their study programme. At certain study programmes other foreign languages than the above-mentioned ones have been provided. There are programmes which determine knowledge of English as a requirement for a student, so their foreign language offer is limited to this language.
Participation in the foreign language course is subject to correct registration in the group within the deadline for online registration via UL (www.ul.us.edu.pl/catalogue.php) based on the result of the mandatory placement test (in the case of students beginning a foreign language course).
At the beginning of the academic year there will be remote information meetings with foreign language teachers to provide information about the specific character of foreign language courses and explain any potential issues.
- Physical education classes
Physical education classes are mandatory for all students of full-time studies during the first two semesters. In the winter semester of academic year 2020/2021 physical education classes will be conducted by the Centre for Physical Education and Sport in the following way:
– 10 hours (5 classes) in gyms,
– 10 hours (2 or 3 meetings) outdoors – outside the premises of the University of Silesia,
– 10 hours remotely.
Individuals interested in specific sporting disciplines may carry out physical education in classes that are equivalent to physical education classes by participating in sections of University Sports Association at the University of Silesia – details and conditions of participation are available on www.azs.us.edu.pl.
All students must log in www.usosweb.us.edu.pl to participate in classes.
Additionally, the Centre for Physical Education and Sport will prepare different physical activities, including an urban game, on 5–10 October. The students participating in these events may complete a large part of their winter semester credit in this way. Details and registration to participate in the Sports Week will be available on www.cwfis.us.edu.pl.
- Adaptation to special needs
The individuals who would like to use the support in the education process in connection with their disability or health problems may obtain it in the form of Individual Adaptation of Studies by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Special forms of support are described on: www.us.edu.pl/student/dostosowanie.
- Settlement of summer session in academic year 2019/2020
Any classes resulting from the study programme in the summer semester of academic year 2019/2020 which were not fully completed or did not take place at all (in particular: laboratory, practical and workshop classes) will be conducted at faculties in line with the schedules determined by the relevant deans. The deans have defined the list of class modules which, due to their specific character, have not been carried out, and determined the terms, dates and method of conducting such class modules. Relevant information was provided to the students.
A majority of exams and credits in the summer exam session of academic year 2019/2020 are conducted remotely. However, when the specific character of the exam requires conducting the classes on-site, this is executed subject to special safety rules both on the part of the University and the student, in particular the rules specified by the Chief Sanitary Inspector.
The obligation to make pass entries in the student record book and submit the student record book in the Dean’s Office has been abolished. The student informs the Dean’s Office that the exam session has been passed by completing the application form in USOSweb system.
3. STUDENT RESIDENCE HALLS (DORMS)
One of the significant factors preventing the spread of coronavirus epidemic is keeping social distance. Accommodation in student residence halls (dorms) will be carried out subject to providing necessary conditions for protection against COVID-19 infection.
Applications for accommodation in student residence halls (dorms) will be considered in three stages:
1st stage – applications submitted until 14 September will be considered until 18 September 2020.
2nd stage – applications submitted on 15-21 September will be considered until 30 September 2020.
3rd stage – applications submitted after 21 September 2020 will be considered on an ongoing basis at faculties, and after 5 October 2020 in the Student Social Affairs Office at the Student Service Centre (email@example.com).
All interested parties will be able to find the decision on granting a place in the student residence hall (dorm) on their individual accounts in USOSweb (www.usosweb.us.edu.pl).
For more information see www.us.edu.pl/student/komunikaty/akademiki-skladanie-podan-decyzje.
To those of you who would like to live in student residence halls for a shorter period of time, we would like to offer our guest rooms.
The accommodation process will run from 29 September to 5 October 2020. This year’s novelty will be electronic registration, which will allow us to avoid too many people gathering in one place at the same time. Everyone who is granted a place will have to register in the University’s SRW system and specify the date and time of their arrival to check in. Registration will be carried out separately for each student residence hall (dorm). Registration links will be available from 21 September on www.us.edu.pl/student/wsparcie-i-fundusze/akademiki-2.
Please take only essential items to the student residence hall. The experience from the beginning of the epidemic and the necessity of sudden return to permanent residence places showed us how important it is to pack and secure your personal items in the situation when it is impossible to take them.
In the student residence hall (dorm) you must remember to observe the safety and personal hygiene rules, which are announced on an ongoing basis by the Chief Sanitary Inspector, and in particular about: disinfecting your hands at the entrance to the premises, following the social distance rules (i.e. avoiding public gatherings), covering mouth and nose (using a mask, visor etc.), as well as notifying immediately the student residence hall administrator (by phone or e-mail) about any suspected contact with a person infected with COVID-19.
4. ADAPTATION DAYS
At the beginning of the academic year (2–9 October), you will be able to see on the screens of your TV sets, monitors, tablets and mobile phones the materials prepared for you by the employees of the Student Service Centre and representatives of the University Council of the Student Government and faculty councils in cooperation with other units acting to the benefit of the development of student activity. During interviews with university experts you will find out answers to the questions asked by each student who are only beginning their studies at our University.
A lot of space will be dedicated to the organisation of University work and education during the coronavirus pandemic. You will find out how classes will be taught, as well as how to handle student affairs. You will get to know people who are most important and necessary for students at the University and your Faculty. You will see how the University operates during the pandemic, why it is worth using the university e-mail address, where to find the timetable of classes and credits, as well as whom to ask which question.
On the first day you will get to know the University as a whole, and on the following days we will present particular faculties and units, and run thematic workshops. Every day we will take you on a tour of faculty buildings to show you what the University looks like „from the inside”, as well as where the “strategic” places such as Dean’s Office, student zones and photocopying stations are located. We will also present to you the individuals who handle student affairs at your Faculty, so that you are able to recognise the relevant person either directly or by phone.
Virtual Adaptation Days are supplemented with www.adapciak.us.edu.plplatform, which presents the most important information and contains links leading to the websites where we publish current information, as well as most important legal acts and contact details.
All types of allowances are awarded at a student’s request. Applications for social allowance, disability allowance or financial aid completed in system USOSweb should be submitted together with the required documentation in the Dean’s Office (in person or by registered letter) until the 10th day of a particular month. All allowances are granted for one semester. In the case when the application is submitted until the 10th day of a particular month, the allowance is paid out also for the month when the application was submitted, whereas in the case when the application was submitted after this date – from the following month, without compensation for the previous month. A student is entitled to financial aid twice during the entire academic year. Work on electronic application for Rector’s scholarshop is in progress; it can be filled out in USOSweb system and submitted at the Dean’s Office until 15 October 2020 or, in the case when 2nd cycle studies begin from the summer semester, until 30 March. Information on the date for submitting application for Minister’s scholarship will be published on the University’s website in a separate message. If you are looking for student information, please check: www.us.edu.pl/student.
Attention: the current statutory provisions related to the epidemic, which allow you to submit scholarship-related documents by e-mail, do not include the new academic year. You will be informed about any potential new regulations on an ongoing basis.
6. RECTOR’S AWARDS
Let me remind you that voting for Student and Doctoral Student of the Year under the 12th Rector’s Awards competition is still in progress. You can read about the candidates here: www.us.edu.pl/student/dzialalnosc-studencka/wyroznienia-jm-rektora-us/laureaci-xii-edycji.
To vote, please enter the following website: www.ankieter.us.edu.pl/surveys/335 and log in the same way as to USOSweb system.
The voting lasts until 23 September. I strongly encourage you to participate in the voting.
7. CENTRAL INAUGURATION AND FACULTY INAUGURATIONS
Let me invite you to the official inauguration of the academic year, which will take place on 1 October 2020 in the lecture hall of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Although this largest lecture hall at our University can hold up only a small part of the University of Silesia community, we will try to meet each of you both separately and together during the online transmission on Facebook and YouTube – on the following channels: „Uniwersytet Śląski” and „UŚTV”.
I would also like to invite you to the faculty inaugurations, which will be available on the YouTube channel „University of Silesia”. Here is the faculty inauguration schedule:
10:00 – Faculty of Natural Sciences
14:00 – Faculty of Humanities
10:00 – Faculty of Social Sciences
14:00 – Faculty of Law and Administration
10:00 – Krzysztof Kieślowski Film School
14:00 – Faculty of Science and Technology
10:00 – Faculty of Arts and Educational Science
10:00 – Faculty of Theology
Ladies and Gentlemen, I realise that your uncertainty regarding life and studying will not disappear over the next few months. I share it with you, and I promise that we will do our best to make sure that we go through this isolation time with minimum loss, or even use it to gain new skills that will enrich our proper education, as soon as the risk is gone.
Let us be patient and careful, let us help one another during the subsequent months, especially by taking care of those who can be separated from us due to technical obstacles or lack of skills more than the epidemic.
For several months now we have been witnessing feverish discussions in connection with the complaint submitted by students against one of the academics at our University. Although this case is unpleasant, our University will solve it in a reliable and just manner, using an independent disciplinary committee for this purpose. However, we are deeply concerned about the hearings of our students by the prosecutor’s office, which began separate proceedings related to this complaint. We perceive it as development of a sense of risk in the academic community and indirect interference in the University’s autonomy. Considering this, I particularly want you to remember about the fundamental values which we share as the University of Silesia community: values which we included in § 4 of our constitution, i.e. Statute of the University of Silesia:
- The University community acknowledge and adopt, as their own, the following basic values remaining the foundation for their establishment: freedom of scientific research, artistic activity and education, equality of opportunities for all members of the University community, respecting human dignity and seeking for truth.
- The University community shall take decisions regarding its members, shall take into consideration their real achievements, shall regard as unacceptable any forms of unequal treatment as well as direct or indirect discrimination, especially due to gender, age, disability, race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, union affiliation, ethnic origins, faith, sexual orientation.
- The University community shall show consideration for the freedom of debate held in the atmosphere of respect for different views and unrestricted expression of ideas based on facts and scientific methods, respecting the principles of unbound and sincere discourse held in line with the rules of logical reasoning and arguments.
- While educating the students, doctoral students and participants in other forms of education, the University shall aim to transfer knowledge, shape the skills, respect human rights and cultivate civic virtues and democratic values.
This is the University that we want to form together with you.
The miracle of education consists in stubborn and constant teaching of subsequent age-groups of young people. Against all odds, including COVID-19 in the first place, we will do it at the University of Silesia for the fifty-third time.
I wish you all the best for new academic year 2020/2021
Prof. Ryszard Koziołek
Rector of the University of Silesia
Prof. dr hab. Ryszard Koziołek. Fot. Sekcja Prasowa UŚ