Education, Yantai and Student Life
Today, the University Council took big steps on many topics that are important to Lijst Calimero. Since three subjects are very important to us, we want to inform you on these:
Extra money for high quality education
We’re going to start of with some amazing news! In the discussion regarding the financial framework, the Board accepted the University Council’s proposal to invest 5 million in hiring more teachers and thus better the student/staff ratio! This money will be made available to all faculties, who will come up with a plan to reduce the work pressure for staff. The money will become available in 2019 and we hope that this money will be made available structurally. We will discuss this matter again in the fall. Earlier this month, the Board already announced that 2,5 million euros will structurally be available for faculties to improve student-staff ratio. This means that 7,5 million euros has been promised for small scale education! At least for 2019, but hopefully structurally in the coming years. Of course, we are very happy with this.
Last December, when we discussed the budget for 2019, we demanded that more money should be invested in faculties to improve the quality of education, instead of in university broad projects. This confrontation paved the way to the extra investments of today, and we’re now reaping the benefits of our harsch approach last winter. This is by far our biggest achievement of the year, because this means that the quality of education will be improved and that the diplomas of our students will be more valuable. With your vote, our successors will push for structural investment of the money.
The fact that Lijst Calimero opposes to Yantai has even reached the newspapers in Malaysia. But today, we spoke about the termination of the project, since a project of this magnitude cannot be stopped in one day. Recent conversations between the Board and China has resulted in that China still wants to cooperate with the UG in a less intense way, such as dual degree programs, but demands that the possibility remains to install a branch-campus in the future.
Of course, it is impossible to see into the future, but still Lijst Calimero will not accept China’s demand. We believe that it is important that the university takes a new approach to internationalization. An approach that must be bottom-up instead of top-down, as it has been so far. In this new strategy it would be unwise to still set a branch campus as an end goal, and thus this proposal cannot count on our support. We have expressed this in the council meeting, where the opinions on the matter were divided. The Board will take this into account when preparing their new internationalization policy.
Financial Support Fund Regulations
Financial Frameworks and Branch campuses: important matters that are decided upon the university council, but we understand that these issues don’t touch on the daily life of students. Something that does touch on it, for which we advocated today, is the unique identity of student organisations, that a lot of students are a member of.
The Board has proposed a change in the Financial Support Fund Regulations that would make it possible for them to suspend or withdraw the board grants that the boards of student organisation receive, when the organisation acts in violation of the code of conduct regarding introduction times. We don’t agree with this measure, as we have defended in November.
To summarize: the board grants are meant to compensate for the study delay that board member suffer, and this would make the Financial Support Fund Regulations into a weapon of power to wield whenever there is controversy. This kind of normative acts against student organisations violates their freedom to maintain their own identity. We are currently seeing that many boards are already acting out of fear that their grants may be suspended. This is a bad evolution that we do not want. Student life must be fun and diverse, and the best way to guarantee this is in a way that the Board of Directors doesn’t get a say in what happens in student organisations.
Since the student parties in the university council have the right of consent on the Financial Support Fund Regulations, a majority of the 12 student members was needed in order to adopt the Board’s proposal. Since we expressed that we wouldn’t consent on the proposed adaptations, and DAG supported us in that, it seemed to move towards a rejection. Based on that, it has been decided to reschedule the discussion and decision on this issue to next month’s council, on the 31st of May. Meanwhile, we will sit down with the Board to come to an agreement.
An important theme, on which we have worked very hard this year, is the mental wellbeing of students. The Well-being Week, currently in its last day of the pilot, has become a big success. We have worked hard to realize this campaign, in which the Student Service Centre (SSC) displays her courses for free. There seems to be a great need among students for information and help with issues about stress and mental health. For our part, a campaign is a good starting point to raise awareness about the subject and the facilities the university has for it.
However, this is just a start, let’s be clear about that. Because the help offered by the SSC is good, but insufficient. Long waiting times to even get an intake with a student psychologist, amounting to a whole study block. A shame, in our opinion. Luckily, the Board acknowledged this too, when we asked them about their plans to further tackle the mental health issue among students. They have promised to expand the capacity of the SSC, to ensure that more student will be able to get help more quickly in the future.
If you want to know more on what we think on all these issues, read our linked articles. Do you still have question? Please contact our faction members! You can find our contact information at https://www.lijstcalimero.nl/en/fractie/.