University Council Newsletter, edition 92
Some items of the latest UCouncil meeting, 210
1. University education returning to Fryslân2. Studying abroad3. Exam slots to remain unchanged4. Lapsed leave hours 20135. Language and Culture Policy6. Presidium
University education returning to Fryslân
The University Campus Fryslân (UCF) in Leeuwarden will officially be the eleventh faculty of the University of Groningen. The University of Groningen intends to offer master programmes at the UCF that are important to Fryslân, in the areas of water, energy, life science, tourism, multilingualism, sustainable society, technology and governance. In total this concerns five to ten new programmes, which will attract hundreds of students to Leeuwarden. In the long run it is also intended to realise an international residential University College Fryslân, probably in the areas of Politics, Philosophy, Psychology and Economics. This investment in knowledge and jobs will result in closer ties with the region, more master students and more research, predicts the Board Chairman of the University of Groningen Professor Dr Poppema .
2. Studying abroad
This month also the importance of studying abroad was highlighted. Although the University of Groningen in comparison with other Dutch universities performs quite well the intended objective of at least half of the Groningen students in 2015 having international education experience has unfortunately not yet been achieved. The student parties have by means of a letter and a memorandum made various suggestions for the improvement of the policy in this respect. Examples are facilitating taking exams and following subjects abroad and better information of the Groningen students about the opportunities, the exchange of ‘best practises’ among the various international offices, and collaboration with more top universities. Although the Board appreciated the ideas it was pointed out that many of the decisions relating to studying abroad will have to be taken by the faculties themselves. It is obviously essential that the committees and organs concerned are well informed of the existing possibilities. For this reason the suggestions will be included in a memorandum from the bureau and this will be distributed among the faculties.
3. Exam slots to remain unchanged
In the past months discussions at various levels have taken place to increase the number of exam slots from 3 to 4. The reason for this is that there is too little space for the exams. This is partly due to the increase in student numbers and the fact that the academic year of the Hanzehogeschool runs at the same time, but also because students, since this year, are automatically enrolled for the exams of the relevant course.
A lot of objections were voiced against an increase in exam slots, also by the UCouncil. By increasing the exam slots the duration per slot would decrease and this would result in a shorter change-over time with negative consequences.
The Board also realized this and has decided against an increase of the number of slots per day. The UCouncil is welcomes this decision. As a consequence, exams may take place on a Friday evening or Saturday (if there really is no other option). The Council took a critical stance on this option as it infringes on the free weekend of both lecturers and students. The Board indicated that it will do everything to avoid exams in the weekend.
4. Lapsed leave hours 2013
On 1 January 2015 the leave entitlement of 2015 and the permitted carry-over hours 2013/2014 were determined in the self service. (text HR at My University).The unilateral determination and the communication about this have led to many questions and incomprehension with the UCouncil and the trade union. It appeared, for instance, that there are employees who only have oral agreements with their managers about the hours to be carried over from 2013/2014 to 2015. As the agreements were not in writing they could not be taken into account when calculating the actual balance of leave hours.The Staff factions and the Board did not come to an unambiguous interpretation of the Collective Labour Agreement articles 4.7.8 c and 4.7.8 e. These Articles regulate leave entitlement. Not indicating the number of hours on the leave card in time that might automatically be lost bears witness to bad employership, according to the trade unions.'Rondvraag' concept Cie Bestuur (http://myuniversity.rug.nl/infonet/medewerkers/organisatie/medezeggenschap/u-raad/conceptverslagcommissiebestuur22januari2015.pdf) 22 jan 2015, published 13/2/15: "Because it unfortunately still has caused problems an additional tool will be integrated into the self-service portal this year. So that every employee can see how many hours might be removed."The Board offered those employees affected the opportunity to submit their oral agreement to PH Middelen of the Faculty or to the Director of the services, after signature by the manager. The PH Middelen of the faculty or the director of the service assesses whether or not the agreements must be honoured.
The staff factions did not get an answer in the UCouncil to the question, what the reason is for the University of Groningen to want to be ‘the best boy/girl in class’ by making very little use of the room for interpretation in the Collective Labour Agreement. Other institutions in The Netherlands seem to be much more creative in this respect.Whereas in 2013 requesting leave was the responsibility of both employee and manager; now in 2015 the Board states that making agreements is the employee’s own responsibility – and that this was communicated clearly.The UCouncil is pleased that in individual cases a solution will be sought. The possibility to make new agreements, however, will not happen, according to the Board.
5. Language and Culture Policy
The fact that the university internationalizes is old hat. How we are going to do this, however, is not always clear. This was clearly shown again in the previous meeting. The Council discussed the starting points of the new language and culture policy. For instance, a steering group will be set up that will supervise and streamline this project. The Council pleaded with the Board in particular for calm and meticulousness. The policy put into action is a project that will take a number of years. Staff and students must be given the time to get used to internationalization. Because, according to the Board, not only is English spoken at the university; the culture must be international.
After a wonderful Christmas break the UCouncil was able to make a fresh start in the last weeks. The new year also means a new search for UCouncil members for next year. Are you interested in the University of Groningen policy, do you want to represent colleagues or fellow students? Via the links below in this mail you will learn everything about the different factions.But, of course, a lot more has happened this month. For instance, one of these days you will be able to find the UCouncil on Facebook and Twitter! After improving this Newsletter the UCouncil will take the next step to involve staff and students at the University of Groningen in its activities. Both social media accounts will be used for updates on meeting themes, field trips and any other developments at the University of Groningen. So, if you wish to keep track of what we do, then do not hesitate and like or follow us as soon as we are online. We hope that this way it is easier to find us and to be more accessible. And we think that this is a perfect New Year’s resolution for 2015.
UCouncil on Twitter:
Personeel U-raad RUG @PersoneelUraad
Lijst Calimero @lijstcalimero
Lijst STERK @lijststerk
All factions also have a website (http://myuniversity.rug.nl/infonet/medewerkers/organisatie/medezeggenschap/u-raad/samenstelling).
Disclaimer: The text above is an impression of topics discussed in the UC and should not be regarded as official statements with regard to decisions taken in the UC.
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