Opening of the academic year: focus on blended learning

The special school year 2020-2021 kicked off with a live talk show

27 Aug 2020 17:25 | Communication

The new academic year 2020-2021 has officially started. This year it kicked off in a unique way, via a live talk show streamed from Café Fest. It was humorous and musical but also devoted a lot of attention to the challenging circumstances that students and lecturers are facing as classes begin again.

Presenter Rick van de Westelaken kicked off the show by interviewing AUAS Lecturer of the Year, Jack van de Wal. How did he get through the lockdown, the presenter wanted to know. Van de Wal called it a 'challenge' to give lessons online as a teacher at the Sports Studies programme since these types of classes are not easy to give online. "You miss the core of the profession - physical contact".

In a conversation with Van de Westelaken, outgoing AUAS Executive Board chairman Huib de Jong also talked about the difficult time that students, teachers and staff have endured. "It is very strange to have to say goodbye during this period. The core of education is meeting together", says De Jong, who considers the forced move to online teaching as a result of the corona measures very much at odds with this.


Hanneke Reuling, who will step in for De Jong as interim chair of the board from 1 September nevertheless tried to stay positive. "Personally I feel a sense of relief today, despite the worries. We will open again. And that feels so good. We are ready to meet each other again”.

In Café Fest, which was completely converted into a professional studio for the occasion of the opening, students also talked about their experiences with remote learning. "My room is my worst enemy," said fourth-year International Business student, Tays Martina. "Sometimes the bed is too comfortable. It’s hard to get motivated sometimes."

Mathematics teacher Charaf Batou, despite the difficulties, also sees positive side of this situation. "It’s unfortunate that the lockdown was the catalyst, but it has now forced us to think about smarter ways of teaching". According to Batou, the right mix of ‘blended’ education - online and in person - can offer more room for impactful instruction when meeting face to face.


Towards the end of the show the focus turned to AUAS research. This year the AUAS Research of the Year Award was presented to Irene Maldini, senior researcher Fashion & Technology at the Faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industries (FDMCI). The jury, led by Rector Geleyn Meijer, was unanimously positive about the broader social urgency of her research 'Can design confront consumerism?’. The multidisciplinary scope of the research and her thorough and well-defined approach were also praised.

The public’s choice award went to Aisa Amagir, who trains economics teachers and is also a doctoral student at the Faculty of Education (FOO). Her research focuses on financial literacy among youth and how financial education can contribute to the promotion of prudent financial behavior.

Curious about the entire programme? Watch it via, available from Monday 31 August.

Read a special message from the AUAS Executive Board, addressed to students, lecturers and support concerning the year ahead:

Room to learn