International staff candidate for University Council

Rieza Aprianto is the first international PhD candidate for the staff faction of the University Council.

‘Given the number of international employees that there are here, I think they are currently underrepresented in the Council’, Aprianto says. ‘Having more would be a nice arrangement, both for me and for the Council.’ Roughly 20 per cent of the RUG’s staff comes from abroad, and 60 per cent of the PhD candidates are non-Dutch.

Aprianto, originally from Indonesia, is working in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. His current research involves microbiology and molecular genetics, and he received his master’s degree from UMCG.

Even though Aprianto wants to better represent international staff, he sees the issues of work-life balance and job security as being very much the same for all young professionals at the RUG.

Time management challenge

‘There are some specific problems that international employees may experience when they first move to a new country, but fundamentally, the challenges that young researchers face are quite similar for everyone, and I don’t think those voices have had very much of an outlet in the University Council.’

Many staff members feel so overwhelmed with their current workload that they don’t have time to participate in any decision-making councils. Aprianto recognizes that, too. ‘It will be a time management challenge to balance studying and working, but I gladly accept that challenge’, Aprianto says. ‘It will take time to do it all, it’s not just going to a meeting; it’s a lot of preparation and follow up as well. My department is understanding of the fact that it requires work.’

What about language? ‘If I can get into the Council, then they will be in a situation where English really has to be part of the discussion. If I can have either a live translation with an earpiece or on an iPad, I think that should be fine. A live translation would also be helpful, because if I get to speak English, they should get to speak Dutch.’

Preferably two PhD students

Aprianto isn’t the only PhD candidate running for the Council. Niké Wentholt, who is Dutch, works in the Faculty of Arts and is also aiming to join the staff faction.

Wentholt hopes that the Council can help the RUG maintain its identity in the midst of major changes, including the addition of the Honours College, University College Groningen, Learning Communities, requiring teaching certificates and plans to branch out in Friesland and China. ‘I think it is great that the University is so busy developing itself. On the other hand, I am a bit fearful that the University will lose itself in the process.’

Wentholt is also interested in representing female PhD candidates in particular and ‘being a watchdog’ for all PhD candidates in general. ‘Especially with regards to the upcoming experiment with bursary PhDs, I think there should be at least one – and preferably two – PhD students in the Council’, Wentholt says.