The most important part of a university degree is of course the content of learning. Education has to prepare students for their future, even if it is changing constantly. For Lijst Calimero that means challenging academic education that is linked to academic research, but also stimulates the development of skills and prepares students for the labor market. Students must be stimulated to follow their own interests so that they can get the most out of their student time.
More freedom of choice within degree programs
Degree programs need to have a strong academic base. At the same time, Lijst Calimero recognizes, that the individual interest of students go beyond their degree programs, for example regarding minors and specializations. All courses together should lead to a valuable diploma. Lijst Calimero therefore thinks, that students should be able to choose some of their courses themselves so that they can specialize into a certain direction. In this way, students can differentiate themselves from others and follow their own path.
- The range of university-wide minors needs to be extended.
Lijst Calimero is aiming for the establishment of future-oriented, university-wide minors that are open to all students. Therefore, Lijst Calimero pleads for a university-wide career minor and a minor in rhetoric, which will be explained in more detail.
- Students should be able to switch between studies more easily.
Students must keep the possibility to switch to a different degree program in a later stage of their study. Accessible pre-masters enlarge the possibilities of Bachelor students and enhance the individual development of students. It is also important to communicate to students that it is already possible to follow extra courses at different faculties during their Bachelor’s degree, for example by doing a minor.
- The Honours College should be more challenging.
Currently a lot of students stop with the Honours College because they think it is not challenging enough. Additionally, students need to receive more and better information about the possibility to participate in the Honours College and what that means.
Focus on the development of academic skills
Next to academic skills a having wide range of practical skills becomes more and more important so that students will be widely deployable and will be able to adapt to a rapidly changing world. The UG underestimates the importance of academic and practical skills. The University has to enhance and support the development of all those skills. If skills cannot be developed sufficiently within a degree program, the UG has to facilitate and support the development of those skills on a central level.
- Students should be supported in the improvement of their academic language skills.
It is the UG’s responsibility that upon graduation every student has to have an academic language proficiency. There are still too many students that experience difficulties in academic writing. The UG needs to develop a solution that improves the academic language proficiency university-wide.
- Creation of a university minor in rhetoric
This minor will help motivated students develop and improve their argumentation, reasoning, and debating skills. Those skills contribute to the academic development of students and are essential in today’s society.
- More interdisciplinary projects.
Cross-curricular projects, such as interdisciplinary Learning Communities and the Career Lab, can enhance the development of 21st century skills. Those are, for example, cooperation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and digital skills. 21st century skills are increasingly important and need to be a part of every degree program.
Internationalization should never be a goal by itself
Our university is becoming more and more international and tries to adapt its education to this development. That is good, internationalization is a way to improve education and research and can help to prepare students even better for their future. It can, however, never be a goal by itself. Lijst Calimero is against quantitative goals, like a minimum percentage of international students. At the same time, we are for projects of internationalization that contribute to a study environment in which Dutch and international students both feel at home. Last year we launched the ‘Buddy Program’ in cooperation with the ESN in order to introduce international students to the student life in Groningen.
- Internationalization is more than just offering degree programs in English.
Lijst Calimero is actively involved in projects that are focused on internationalization within the curriculum, such as the International Classroom (IC). The IC is a project that aims to achieve a well-functioning learning environment that includes people with diverse backgrounds. Working together with people that have a different backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas is a valuable addition to a degree program.
- Only internationalize if it contributes to the quality of education.
Lijst Calimero thinks that internationalization always has to contribute positively to the quality of education, for example if the research field is also internationally oriented. For some studies internationalization is therefore self-evident while it is not for others. Attracting international students cannot be an argument for internationalization.
- Include a clear language requirements in the basic qualifications of teachers.
The quality of education is endangered when teachers are not able to adequately teach a course in English. With the extensive internationalization policies of the UG, the English language proficiency of teachers is increasingly important. Therefore, Lijst Calimero pleads for the inclusion of a minimum requirement of a C1 level in English in the basic qualifications for education.
- The UG has to support study associations financially in the process of internationalization.
Study associations are more and more required to adapt to the internationalization policies of the University. The internationalization of a study association is costly and therefore financial support for study associations is necessary. Recently, the UG made a limited amount of money available for this purpose. Lijst Calimero pleads for structural financial support of study associations in the process of internationalization.
- The quality of education at the UG cannot be threatened by the establishment of a branch campus in Yantai (UGY).
In the past year, Lijst Calimero repeatedly expressed their worries about the consequences that the establishment of UGY could have for the quality of education here. We are afraid that too many excellent teachers will depart to Yantai and that the degree programs cannot compensate that. Therefore, we do not support the current plans for Yantai. We will only give our consent to the plans if the UG can guarantee us to ensure the quality of education. You can read a more detailed statement on Yantai here.
Academic preparation for the labour market
It is important that students are prepared for their future career on an academic level and that already during their studies they can get in touch with potential employers. In the National Student Survey the UG repeatedly had low scores on the employability aspect of degree programs. Nowadays a university degree is simply no guarantee for finding a job anymore and employers often expect relevant skills and experiences. The University is responsible to prepare its graduates for this.
- The career minor needs to be open to all students.
Recently, Lijst Calimero handed in a proposal to make that possible. The career minor gives students the opportunity to do an internship for 15 ECTS and follow academic ‘employability’ courses for another 15 ECTS. In that way, students can acquire additional skills and prepare themselves for their future career during their student time.
- All trainings offered by Career Services have to be free of charge for all UG students.
Lijst Calimero thinks that all the trainings offered by Career Services need to be free of charge for UG students. To prevent people from not showing up, a deposit system can be used, like they for example do at the Aclo.
Maintaining the link between education and research
One of the main strengths of our university is the constant exchange between academic education and research. The University of Groningen differentiates itself by its excellent research that contributes to the quality of education. Additionally, the UG plays an important role in the society. The link between research and education should be cherished and maintained. The starting point of university degree program is the development of professional and intellectual abilities on an academic level. Therefore, it is important for students to be confronted with academic research. Additionally, some of the students will stay connected to the University in their future as PhD-students and professors.
- Creating a balance between fundamental and market-driven research.
It is extremely important that sufficient funding stays available for fundamental and independent research. In contrast to that, the share of externally financed, market-driven research at the UG has been increasing in the past years. At the moment, about two thirds of the research is funded externally. External funding is important, because without external funding a lot of the research could simply not be done anymore. It is, however, important that externally funded research meets certain requirements and always stays independent.
- Research Masters need to be promoted better.
Our university especially distinguishes itself by its excellent Research Masters and we are very proud of that. Lijst Calimero thinks that the UG should focus on its strengths. Therefore, the UG should promote its Research Masters better and more extensively, especially towards its own Bachelor students.