In line with the recommendation of the EMU Rector’s Office, our university Senate held an online meeting on 21.09.2020 that aimed to evaluate the current circumstances caused by the global pandemic period within the framework of educational activities. It has been decided that the education be conducted in an online format using digital possibilities during the 2020 – 2021 Academic Year Fall Semester; if deemed necessary, different practices be implemented upon obtaining the approval of the Rector’s Office in order to better meet the application and other instructional needs specific to the faculty / school / department / program / course.
The decision taken by EMU Senate corresponds with the decisions of TRNC Council of Ministers, Council of Higher Education and, Higher Education Planning, Evaluation, Accreditation and Coordination Council. In line with the Turkish Republic Ministry of Health and within the scope of the Council of Higher Education decision dated 04.09.2020, our university decided to continue education in the format of distant education by using digital training methods. Pandemic risk factors, particularly, students affected by the pandemic period and community health, are taken into account during the decision making process. Moreover, there are still two flights coming from Turkey to TRNC daily. The very limited number of available flights between İstanbul – Ercan and the increase in the cost of the flights create a great difficulty for students to come to the island. Our university has the opinion of making holistic decisions while determining the educational policy in order to provide equal educational opportunities without making any discrimination between students. It can cause distress to implement different educational methods for students depending on their way of participation. The Senate decision enables the application of different types of education methods including face-to-face according the decisions to be taken by the faculties and schools of EMU.
The recent increase in COVID-19 cases all over the world can easily be observed. Therefore, benefiting from the digital possibilities in the field of higher education has become obligatory. The chaos and uncertainty that would arose as a result of the face-to-face education to be administered within the campus, as well as the high risk of getting infected that would cause either partial or full quarantine in the campus cannot be ignored. Moreover, it will expose the whole city to a great risk. Similar examples can be observed in different parts all over the world. The control of the pandemic is out of hand in campuses where a face-to-face education environment was created and, caused the lockdowns of universities and entire cities. The decision holds great importance in order to not experience such problems and, also to be able to continue with controlled educational activities in campus.
Today, in our campus and in Famagusta, we have over 7,000 students and approximately 9,000 students who are currently abroad. Our university has provided and will continue to provide all kinds of service and support to EMU students from the first days of the pandemic period until today. Our students who are currently in TRNC are able to benefit from all the opportunities offered in our campus and university. Furthermore, students will have the chance to participate in different educational practices to be organized in order to meet the needs specific to the faculty / school / department / program / course and other educational needs. In brief, students who are in TRNC will be able to have face-to-face education opportunity for applied courses and, instructors will be available in offices for office hours to cater for the needs of their students within the framework of the decisions to be taken by the faculties and schools. Our library will render services by applying all the necessary health conditions and administrative units in our university will continue to provide services. It is our greatest wish to see our students on campus safely.
In the decision taken, the health of our students, academic and administrative staff is prioritized on one hand, and the difficulty encountered by the international students in entering the island has been taken into account, on the other hand. Flights from some countries are completely suspended. The majority of our students come from C group countries and when the 14-day quarantine requirement is considered, it leads to the conclusion that it would not be possible for them to reach the campus until mid-semester or even the end. In order for the students to enroll at our university in such a crisis, it is inevitable that we offer them flexible approaches. The current period is a temporary one. In fact, it offers a great opportunity for planning the upcoming three months. Our goal is for our students to come to our country safely within this period. Today, in addition to the limitations in flights to our country, the obligation to undergo a seven-day or fourteen-day quarantine according to the students’ nationalities takes away our chance to make adequate plans and preparations for the new semester commencing on October 12th.
Our university and Famagusta are indispensable. The university and city complement each other. Collaboration between the city and university is inevitable. Especially in periods as such, we are working together to overcome this process with the least damage. We are working to spend this period in a healthy way with our students in Famagusta, our students who will benefit from digital education opportunities this term, and our students who are preparing to come to our campus. Our ability to use this period effectively and efficiently will provide us better opportunities for the next period. The course of the pandemic in the coming winter days is still unknown. In this uncertainty, it is our greatest desire to offer equal rights to our current and new students and not separate them from our university. Moreover, in the event of the pandemic coming to an end or having a positive course, it will allow the necessary education conditions to be reconsidered. We have no doubt that in these difficult days, we will be able to succeed together by working hand in hand. We are also sure that our city will welcome our students who cannot be among us today in a short period of time.