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93, February 2015

04 March 2015

Extraordinary University Council Newsletter, edition 93

The reason for this special edition forms media coverage about participation at the university.

1.    Statement by the full University Council!
2.    Agreements

1) Statement by the full University Council, integral

Groningen -  26 February  2015

Dear Members of the University Board,

Are we the Amsterdam of the North, as is sometimes suggested? In any case, we do not expect any occupations of buildings as yet, as is happening at the UVA.
Yet, there are a number of issues that were duly recognised at our Groningen University. And these issues were not so much about the varied  package of demands, but in the underlying considerations, expressed in the manifest of the now ex-occupiers.
First of all the way politics deal with the increasing culture of accountability and the emphasis on yield. This also worries us when we think of the enormous workload in connection with the accreditations and performance agreements. In this connection we are also fearful that the exaggerated emphasis on yield (and ditto for schoolishness) poses a risk for quality.
On the issue of research we talked last week about the interconnectedness between quality and quantity. Let us also not forget this in education. And what does this focus on finance mean for the  transfer between HBO and WO, and for the policy of life-long learning?
An immediate point of recognition is the Amsterdam observation that participation is  often (too) far at the back of the process and also as a result has too little influence on policy.
Now we did express the wish last year to want a more pro-active role, but that has not really happened. A good example here is the fact that the UCouncil when it comes to providing input for a strategic plan finds itself at the back of the queue, whereas, after all – as we have reiterated on numerous occasions –  we do have a broad expertise! Another example is the discussion of the Bestuurs- en Beheersreglement (BBR), where we have the right of consent, but this discussion was only  placed on our agenda after the regulation should have been  well and truly implemented.
Also, the fact that we regularly disagree about the quality of the chosen reorganisation process provides food for thought. These differences of opinion occur both during the process and afterwards at the evaluation.
This month – The Examinations Regulations (de  OERen)! –again we have seen that we disagree on the powers that the participation committee has on particular issues. This happens frequently. The ramshackle quality of the WHW  (Higher Education and Research Act) does not help either.  It really should be rewritten.

Furthermore, the University of Groningen, in its ambition,  makes quite regularly big policy decisions that the participation committee receives by way of information at a time when everything is almost finalised, while definitely  meaningful questions can be asked about how these plans impact on the ‘normal’ course of business management of the University of Groningen.  The plan for the University Campus Fryslan (UCF) provides a good example. But also the policy on internationalisation and the development of organisational management are important issues.  We ask you to consider and we remind you of the fact that subjects can be discussed in confidence also with the UCouncil.
These are all signs, as far as we are concerned,  that we in Groningen do actually have a number of points for improvement.
Of course, things could be worse – and that means something in Groningen -, but  things could also be better!
Finally –  last but not least – we are naturally very curious about the response of the Board in respect of the  Amsterdam call for more democracy in the appointment of boards or its members. No doubt you are aware of the thoughts on this issue expressed also by the UCouncil members.
In short, we like to invite the Board to a dialogue on these issues very soon  and possibly other issues that affect the relation between control and participation.
Stronger still and a bit more controversial: we challenge the Board to enter into this dialogue! Of course, we will conduct this dialogue in a manner becoming of members of the academic community  in Groningen!
And for now without occupation ;-)

Looking forward to your response. We challenge you to enter into an open dialogue on control and participation.

2) Agreements

In the University Council  meeting of 26 February  three actual issues were agreed on:
•    The Board will more often discuss its policy intentions with the UCouncil.
•    The Board shall co-operate (‘enter into a dialogue’) on improving the  Agreement between the Board and the UCouncil from 2011. Objective: to more clearly lay down the powers of the Board, respectively the UCouncil. In concreto: determination of which decisions the Board must submit to the UCouncil for consent or advice.
•    The Presidium of the UCouncil will from now on add a to-do list to the report of UCouncil meetings

The Board and the UCouncil are to enter into an open dialogue on the relation between control and participation on 10 March  2015.

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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.

Last modified:08 August 2017 10.56 a.m.
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