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98, June, 2015

10 July 2015

University Council Newsletter June (meeting 216), summer edition, 98

Index:
1.    Foreword
2.    Graduation Fund Regulation
3.    UGY - University of Groningen Yantai
4.    Experiment PhD student
5.    Annual Report Laboratory Animals Experts 2014
6.    Update MOOCs and  budget
7.    Overview Management Meetings
8.    NSE

1.    Foreword
It is nearly holiday time and the UCouncil goes almost into recess; a calm period, unlike the stresses and strains of this month.  With the graduation fund, many annual reports, and of course the branch campus it was an interesting meeting. The University of Groningen Yantai (UGY) has kept people very busy the last few months and also in the meeting ample time was devoted to this subject. After a number of promises the plans for a branch campus in Yantai were agreed to. That does not mean, obviously, the end of the matter; the coming meetings will be used extensively to discuss further planning. The UCounsellors will go on holiday while keeping an eye on Groningen at the same time.

2.    Graduation Fund Regulation
This month a proposal was considered in respect of the Graduation Fund Regulation about which the Council has the right of consent.
The previous Regulation no longer applies as the system of financial assistance for students will change drastically from 1 September. For the first time the Regulation is now divided into two parts:  one for force majeure and one for management grants, participation council grants and top sports people. The latter will also be put into action at the Hanzehogeschool.  The Council proposed to allocate 285 Euros per month for force majeure. The height of the management scholarship is provisionally set at 431,20 Euros, however, the students could not agree to this.  The amount of 431,20 Euros is based on the grant of 2012, the reason being that this present regulation was changed then for the last time at that time. The students proposed to adjust the amount to 2015, and that would mean 450 Euros.  The Board agreed with this proposal but needs to discuss this with the Hanzehogeschool.  In August the Council votes on the final Regulation of the Graduation Fund.

3.    UGY - University of Groningen Yantai
Thursday June 25 the UCouncil agreed, with a majority of votes, to the plans of the Board to realise a campus in Yantai, China. All students and one staff member agreed; one member of staff voted against; the 5 remaining staff members voted blank, not being convinced of the necessity of a branch campus yet.

The Council has the right to be consulted on all subsequent documents and major changes in the plan - not the right of consent.
The Chair of the Board disregarded the request to grant right of consent to the UCouncil on this.

Since the official announcement of the plans on March 25 the plans have become increasingly clearer.  Both positive and less positive sounds about the plans can be heard from staff. Faculty Councils from Economics and Business, Science and Arts very critically expressed their concerns.  They, especially, pointed to the risks whose final implications remain unassessed.  The Board recognises these risks and is working on concretising of plans that must overcome these risks.

To enter the negotiations in a serious frame of mind the Board spontaneously asked  for agreement by the UCouncil. To be able to carry on in ‘in good faith’ the Chair of the Board found it necessary that the UCouncil expressed its support that same meeting. In the meantime, a number of documents has been shared with the Council on the basis of confidentiality. The UCouncil will digest these in the holiday period and respond to them afterwards.  Based on this also, the plans for a branch campus in China were agreed upon. As a lot is still confidential and the step towards the East will have an impact on the management in Groningen a Communications plan is being worked on in collaboration with Communications.  All factions will be involved in this.

Before the August meeting the UCouncil, i.c. the personnel faction(s), will invite the Board to elaborate further on the following oral guarantees made by the Chair of the Board – in writing preferably:
1. Academic freedom is guaranteed, how?
2. The programmes (Including Exam Boards) in Groningen are guiding
3. The accreditation of the programmes is not in danger.
4. Extra effort will be made to fill existing and future vacancies, how?

4.    Experiment PhD student
The Board submitted a’ first initiative’ to the UCouncil. The detailed package still has to become back, still under right of consent, because the financial framework must be approved by the UCouncil before its implementation.
The Board deems participation of the experiment itself not a subject for discussion.  In view of the historic experiences of our organisation with scholarship students and the outcome of years of legal procedures, a logical thought of the Board.  Should the UCouncil fail to agree with the new experiment, then the RUG can after all continue with the old experiment.  Yet, this subject continues to remain controversial for many in the UCouncil.  The point of conflict is again and again whether a scholarship student is in education or in work.  You could always come to us for more arguments for or against. The Board, in the meeting, gave the assurance again, that the net amount at the end of the month is paid to the AIO or grant student will in any case be the same. The Board deems a grant of 20,000 to be enough.  We will see.

5.    Annual Report Laboratory Animals Experts 2014
The report of the Laboratory Animals Experts shows that the University of Groningen is convinced of the attention to laboratory animal welfare. The registration of levels of discomfort in experiments shows this.  Those figures of 2014, with a very low number of cases of very serious or serious discomfort can be described as good, setting aside the more philosophical issue that killing these animals cannot be described as discomfort.  In that sense we can say, on the basis of this report, that things are going well in respect of laboratory animal expertise at the RUG.

6.    Update MOOCs and  budget
MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses distributed over the Internet, do not have a revenue model, according to Elmer Sterken.  No more funding will be provided either in the coming time.  So as to optimally utilise working times and energies of the employees the RUG will focus on MOOCs on research of which the RUG has a lot of expertise.
The Board points to an advantage via spin off in offering MOOCs:  companies want to share the presented research in the MOOC with the RUG (via funding), or offer internships.
The Board thinks that MOOCs will be better known in the context of e-learning by distributing a new brochure.  To this end 7,500 Euros will be made available.  The UCouncil is very much in agreement with this controlled strategy.

7.    Overview Management Meetings
The Board submitted for discussed by the UCouncil an overview of the items listed for Management Meetings this spring. The UCouncil asked the Board to share this overview in future in advance.  After all, this is about input for the Management Meetings that were held already.
An interim overview provides the UCouncil a rather interesting insight into the selective and profiling ambitions of the RUG.  A selective ambition has clear objectives: improvement of PhD performance, for instance.  This can be done, according to the Board, by the integration of the Research Master with the PhD track.  Concrete objective: reducing PhD track to 3 years and awarding ‘cum laude’ more often at the same time.
Profiling ambitions are less clear and concrete in the objectives to be achieved.  The objectives become clearer during the development of the ambition.  A good example is the ambition to be placed in a stable manner in the top 100 of the most important rankings. Support in terms of money and fte by the Board is also not determined by the Board in advance, but is determined according to results achieved ‘along the way’.  These are about mainly social themes, such as sustainability, energy and healthy ageing. The UCouncil looks forward to receiving the various progress reports.

8.    NSE
The annual National Student Questionnaire was taken and the results are known.  More than 700, 000 students of 72 universities of applied science and universities were invited to give their opinion on their programme and institution.  No less than 38.9% took part.  On average, the RUG scored very well and in, for instance, the area of accommodation better than before.  A lower score for internship and career counselling shows all the more that in that respect a lot of improvement still needs to be achieved.  It is noticeable that sport facilities at the RUG score lower than the national average. The Board indicated that this is due to the now dated facilities. Whereas the ACLO used to be a frontrunner and used to be unique this advantage is now lost to other university cities. The Board acknowledged that work needs to be done on these points and intends to look at these points critically. The UCouncil will monitor to make sure that actual extra attention is paid to these subjects.

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UCouncil
PersoneelsfractieRUG @PfRUG
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@SOG_groningen
Lijst STERK @lijststerk

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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:28 November 2016 09.50 a.m.
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