More say for students and staff members
The House of Representatives has ensured that programme committees will play a more influential role. From now on, students can contribute to decisions about how many credits a course should be worth, for example. Additionally, the University Board can no longer be chosen without input from students and instructors. In the future, at least one student and one instructor must be on the selection panel, and course credits can no longer be declared invalid over time.
Those are steps in the right direction, the student parties feel. ‘But it all depends on their execution’, says SOG party chairperson Alexander van ‘t Hof. The fact that programme committees will have more of a say is great, the party feels. ‘But more power has to go hand in hand with more support, training and recognition so that the programme committees can also utilize it’, Van ‘t Hof feels.
Nathalie Niehof from Lijst Calimero concurs. ‘Now, there has to be incentive from the university for the programme committees to professionalize. There are programme committees that function very well and also communicate student opinion to the study programme quite well, but there are other programme committees, especially those from small study programmes, which should be further encouraged.’
They are also glad that students will have a say in the hiring process for members of the university Board of Directors, thus ensuring that the interests and concerns of students will be taken into consideration. However, Niehof warns, it is crucial that the student remains impartial and is permitted to be completely involved in the process ‘so that they can make a well-informed choice and are granted a professional perspective on the issue.’
‘We feel that one student and one instructor is too little’, says Van ‘t Hof. ‘You still don’t get a balanced view of the students and instructors.’
Ensuring that study credits aren’t labelled with a certain shelf life has been welcomed. Niehof: ‘It was simply too ridiculous for words that it was possible to declare study credits invalid. This measure is very positive for students!’
No tuition fees for board members
Two weeks ago, SOG asked the University Board once more if they would make it possible for students to serve on a board or committee without having to pay tuition fees. The minister had expressed interest in doing so, and now, the House of Representatives is also in agreement. Soon, students who serve on a board or committee for a year will no longer have to pay tuition fees yet remain enrolled at the university. They will not be allowed to enrol in courses or take exams, but they will have access to financial aid.
‘It’s up to the RUG now’, says Van ‘t Hof. The university is amenable to the plans but wants to wait until the details are laid down in law. ‘But that means that you lag behind, because you are only implementing it a year after it has been made law. You acknowledge it, but don’t do anything about it. We don’t want words; we want actions’, the SOG party chairman says.
The plans from the House of Representatives are in response to the legislative proposal which is called the ‘Enhanced Governance Powers (Higher Education) Act’ from education minister Bussemaker. The law will be voted on next week.