Participating parties, standpoints and candidates
In May, the elections for the student and staff factions of the University Council will take place. The Central Electoral Office (CSB: Centraal Stembureau) has asked all parties a number of questions, which party will you vote for?
Student Organisation Groningen (SOG). The party that is committed to active student life, integration of international students and sustainability.
Lijst Calimero is the party committed to bettering the quality of the education, prioritising student wellbeing, and improving inclusivity and accessibility of the UG for all.
De Vrije Student is the party for all students who want to make something of their time at university, and don't want to feel constrained by needless rules. Our party is all about individual student freedom.
Doughnut Party - name taken from the Doughnut economic policy (e.g. circular economics). For scholarship PhD students, the resources allotted in comparison to employed PhD students is dissimilar and the gaps have been highlighted throughout the course of the experiment. We aim to bring balance in this matter, first by representation to the University Council and secondly, by fighting for better support for scholarship PhD students. As we believe in the equal distribution of University resources, measures for the better well-being of BSc and MSc students will be supported.
The SOG believes that everyone should have the opportunity to follow physical education if they wish. The advantages of (largely) online education do not outweigh the advantages of physical education.
We are focused on a swift return to physical education, however, we should also take forward digital initiatives that worked well during the pandemic. Lectures, for example, should be recorded and made available to students for later revision – especially in cases where students could not attend class due to illness, being abroad, etc.
De Vrije Student wants students to be able to opt for online or in-person teaching. Students should also be able to pay for individual course units rather than paying tuition fees for a whole academic year. This would put them in a better position to combine their studies with a job, a placement or a committee year.
A hybrid approach to teaching - providing opportunities for both live and virtual learning.
In order to reduce the work pressure of staff, the SOG, together with other organisations, wants to plead for a structural investment in education at the national level, so that more staff can be hired. Other solutions, such as hiring temporary teachers, are not effective in the long run because of the growing number of students.
The high workload endured by staff has a large impact on the quality of education we as students receive. The less staff there are, the more overburdened they become and the less time they have to teach us. More structural funds have been approved by the Council this year to hire more staff, but we intend to closely monitor the implementation of this to determine whether more is needed. To support wellbeing, we are proposing to reform the academic calendar so that students and staff have better and more relaxing vacation periods. We also lobby at a national level for reforms in the higher education system through WOinActie; advocating a move away from a growth-based model to one that focuses more on the interests of students and staff.
De Vrije Student wants more money to be allocated to reducing the workload, and has suggested investing €15 million from its own assets.
We also want to see a new appraisal system for staff, which would mean that they are no longer judged on the quantity of work they produce, but on the quality.
If flexible studying is introduced, staff would only have to teach students who really want to take their course units, which would ultimately reduce the workload.
Give recognition to the extra work hours that staff have done to ensure the transition to online teaching during COVID19. Better resource allocation for staff to manage workload and funds for the expansion of staff to relieve current work burdens. Furthermore, provide opportunities to improve teaching skills and personal development and improve the environment for students to be able to share concerns to staff.
The SOG supports international students by finding solutions to: the problems of housing, the internal structure of the University which makes it difficult for international students to hold official positions, and the lack of contact between Dutch and international students.
Having international students at our university enriches the quality of our education, makes us more vibrant as an academic community, and promotes an inclusive atmosphere for all. In attracting these students here, however, the UG has a responsibility to make them feel welcome. Housing is one crucial area. The UG should provide better information and support to international students finding a home, and they should work in partnership with the municipality to create more supply. Next to this, extra funds should be allocated to expand places in free Dutch courses, C1 levels should also become free, and study associations should receive financial support to help these students integrate socially.
Groningen is a fantastic university city. The introduction weeks organized by the Erasmus Student Network and the KEI Foundation give international students a great start. The UG should be supporting these organizations, and any other student organizations that do their best to help international students. This could be through providing these student organizations with accommodation or grants, for example.
A practical international student welcome package (e.g. not be left to own devices when arriving at the city). Current welcome package is lacking of practical information and assistance on finding accommodation would be appreciated (however, the housing issue is not limited to international students. While there is information on the website, it is not the easiest to find information regarding information. Facilitating a buddy system (opt-in) with a ‘local’ student to facilitate dialogue on how to transition moving to another country, may further help international students feel at home.
There should be no maximum limit to the number of students, but the possible increased intake of students due to the Brexit should be taken into account. Because the government has stipulated that Universities themselves cannot set a quota for all studies, they will have to step in with support. A shortage of teaching staff is a direct cause of loss in quality of education.
The accessibility of higher education for all is a core principle of Lijst Calimero. Currently, the national higher education system incentivises too much growth by linking student numbers with money given by the government to universities. We are lobbying at a national-level for this system to be changed. As a university, we can take also action by reducing international marketing so that the influx of students in September matches the UG’s ability to teach these students – and the city’s capacity to house them.
Yes, we do not have unlimited teaching capacity. Unfortunately, the UG is not empowered to regulate its own intake as the legal options for doing this are restrictive. De Vrije Student has asked the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (and now also the informateur) to consider ways of regulating student intake during the government’s next term of office. Universities could, for example, be given more power to implement a fixed quota for certain degree programmes.
Yes there needs to be a limit to ensure high quality of teaching and that there is enough there is enough staff to support all incoming students. In addition, enough capacity for students to be able to live comfortably is a requirement therefore if not enough accommodation is available, expansion of the number of students is unacceptable. Entrance to the university is to be based on merit and application of student.
With the climate challenge ahead of us, it is of great importance to structurally integrate sustainability in the University’s policies. The SOG advocates for the inclusion of the topic of sustainability in academic education. In the upcoming year we aim to draw more attention to the sustainable and interdisciplinary study programmes at Campus Fryslân, to see the development of more innovative and multidisciplinary bachelors and to create an extracurricular sustainability course in which students learn about sustainability in an accessible way.
Sustainability is the future; our organisation as well as our education should reflect this. Sustainability-driven minors such as the one in ‘Energy’ or ‘Future Planet & Innovation’ are at full capacity and should be expanded. The UG, as an organisation, should also look at its paper usage and switch to digital where possible. For example, unnecessary amounts of the magazine ‘Broerstraat 5’ are currently printed and distributed amongst non-alumni student houses. This could easily be changed to sending them digitally by email. The UG should also collaborate with the municipality to ‘greening’ more of the campus and make it a pleasant environment to study and work. By planting more trees and green areas, we want to see the UG taking part in pilot projects which are focussed on cooling down the entire city.
De Vrije Student supports CO2-neutral and nitrogen-neutral new building work. The UG has agreed to implement the party’s recommendations wherever possible.
De Vrije Student wants students and staff to be given a discount on coffee if they bring their own mugs. Numerous non-recyclable paper cups are wasted every year. This has to stop! De Vrije Student is delighted that this rule has been introduced in the Faculty of Economics and Business and hopes that the rest of the UG will soon follow suit!
De Vrije Student wants the historical UG buildings in the city centre to be insulated and stripped of asbestos in order to minimize the UG’s energy consumption.
Expand the new travel policy to further distances for train and promote a system which rewards utilisation of green methods of travel when not necessary. Work towards 100% sustainable purchasing, factoring into working conditions and human rights of workers who developed products and diminishing cooperations with unsustainable companies. Provide a sustainability roadmap for incoming students (e.g. what actions can one do to be more sustainable), as part of the welcome package to the UG.
In 5 years the SOG would like to see a sustainable University that upholds its high quality of education, and that encourages students to gain experiences outside the University as well.
Our hope is to see a university that has struck a healthy balance between providing a future-proof, high-quality education and a student-centred environment which prioritises student wellbeing. Students should leave the UG with an education fit for life, but also having had sufficient space for personal development and interests outside of studies.
Our wish is that in five years’ time, every student will be able to follow a degree programme of their own design at the most sustainable university in the Netherlands. Students will choose the pace at which they study and whether they want to follow online or in-person teaching. Compulsory lectures will be a thing of the past throughout the UG.
In addition, the TopDutch University (now known as the University of the North) will offer course units and placements at innovative companies and institutions throughout the Northern Netherlands and Germany.
Provide equal rights for scholarship PhD students as employed PhD students (e.g. access to bicycle scheme, funds to help with move to Groningen). Improve the capacity for managing mental health at the university for students to be able to raise and share one’s concerns.
The Personnel Faction (PF), with eight members, is the largest faction within the personnel section on the University Council. This year we once again have excellent candidates from various faculties and service departments and from all levels of staff. With this variety we offer extensive experience and expertise, and aim to represent academic staff, support staff and PhD students as broadly and effectively as possible. Our diversity is also important because it leads to an optimal exchange of ideas. We have plenty of room for open debates and differences of opinion; we vote in the University Council as individuals, not as members of a faction, and we are proud of that: freedom of opinion in debate and voting. We do, however, share some common goals: check out Personeelsfractie.nl
Motto: Diversity, Sustainability and Creativity!
Mission: Our mission is to ensure that policy, decisions and procedures align with the rights and interests of all staff members with a permanent or a temporary contract, whether they are academic staff or support and administrative staff.
The Personnel Faction is of the opinion that the organization of education is the responsibility of the faculty, of the teachers, and needs to fit the discipline and the student population. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’, but teachers must be given the time and space to develop better education – if necessary - and to professionalize – if necessary. A broad debate about new forms of education is of course always welcome.
The same as it was before the coronavirus pandemic, but lecturers will be able to choose whether or not to offer lectures, online sessions or knowledge clips alongside tutorials.
The Personnel Faction puts work pressure high on the agenda. In the past, we have pushed through additional workload resources: 5 million extra per year as of 2017 (an initiative of DAG), and another 15 million in total between 2021 and 2025. In addition, the Personnel Faction has a representative in the UG working group “Lessen the work”, and we review every policy plan in view of its implicit (extra) workload. Over the years, we have repeatedly put work pressure on the agenda of the consultative meeting between the University Council and the Executive Board.
- Acknowledge the difference between working hours and overtime hours.
- Introduce a cap on the student-staff ratio.
- The University must be a place for freedom, motivation and meaningful work.
Inclusion of international students and staff has been our top priority for years. Already years ago, we repeatedly asked the Executive Board for an inclusion expert to review the UG's policy on inclusion. Several of our new candidates want to make inclusion their spearhead again. Five of our candidates are internationals themselves, thus providing a good representation of internationals in our academic community. So, there is no short answer as to how, but experts by training or experience have to make sure that all policy is inclusive, and we are ready to make a case for this!
All students should feel at home in Groningen, not just the international students. Senior students could act as mentors for first-year students. There should be more support for community building and more organized activities, such as group bike rides, visits to other cities and games competitions.
The limit to the maximum number of students cannot be expressed in a specific number. There must be sufficient resources and possibilities, in proportion to the number of students, to guarantee good quality of education with healthy work load for staff. The government's funding system for higher education is currently at odds with this. We only get a bigger piece of the pie with more student intake, but the piece is getting smaller per student as a result. This must change! We have made a strong case for this in the past, for example by participating in WO-in-Actie, and we will continue to do so. Who should be admitted? We do not strive for a university for excellent students only, but for a university that helps all motivated students to excel in their talents.
A cap like this would be automatic if we introduced a cap on the student-staff ratio.
The Personnel Faction does not see three measures, but three domains where concrete measures must be implemented quickly: education, research and operational management. First of all, awareness of sustainability and the opportunities to contribute to this as a student, researcher and citizen must be interwoven in education. Secondly, the UG must make an active contribution to research for a more sustainable world – as is already happening now! And finally, business operations must be made more sustainable as soon as possible - including climate-friendly travel, heating, buildings, food, etc. – as is also happening more and more and we have regularly advocated, and will continue to do so
- Modes of instruction: student and staff numbers must be aligned so that modes of instruction and teaching materials remain stable for several years.
- The developmental paths for staff members should offer the prospect of a long-term career.
- The UG must become energy-neutral.
Through its efforts, the Personnel Faction hopes that the workload will have returned to a healthy level within five years time, and that our staff will have sufficient time and space to develop and support good education. We want the university to be a pleasant environment for study and work where everyone feels at home, and that we are good on track in our contribution to a sustainable world.
The academic level of the students will be higher.
Click on the links to check out the websites of these parties and to get more information about their standpoints on topics that are important to students and staff. Examples include student wellbeing, staff workload, the quality and design of teaching and the consequences of internationalization. The parties also have clear views on the direction in which the UG should be heading.
The parties and candidates up for election were announced on 22 April 2021. Would you like to know more about each party and who you can vote for?
|Last modified:||17 May 2021 2.03 p.m.|