News of the week 39

What's happened in week 39? UB breaks visitor record, Zernike route danger, NWO discrimination and more.

University Library busier than ever

thumb-UB-UniversiteitsbibliotheekDespite construction work and preventing HBO students from using the library during exam weeks, the UB has broken its visitor record: in August, 33,477 people entered the building, which is 6,500 more than the standing record number.

Visitors are measured by sensors above the entrances, and if people come and go for lunch, they may be counted twice. Still, there is a clear increase. Floor-by-floor construction of the library will bring with it 2,200 study spaces in total when renovations are completed in 2018.

Zernike bike route ‘dangerous’

thumb-fietsroute-zernikeThe Young Democrats of the D66 party say that the bike route to Zernike can’t handle the hustle and bustle. The bike paths are too small and students can’t bike past each other safely, particularly at the crossing between Eikenlaan and Selward Park.

The party has written a letter to the municipality of Groningen requesting renovations to the bike route as soon as possible. They have also put up signs banning the overtaking of other cyclists along the bike route.

NWO disadvantageous to female researchers

thumb-vrouwenappBetween 2010 and 2012, 17.7 per cent of men who applied for a Veni grant from NWO were awarded financing in comparison to 14.6 per cent women. This was not due to the quality of the applications but rather the use of words such as ‘adventurous’ and ‘challenging’ in the forms used to assess the candidates.

Those terms are often considered stereotypical masculine traits, which may have led to male applicants more readily meeting the criteria. This is a possible explanation for underrepresentation of women at the scientific forefront. The NWO has promised to re-evaluate its process.

No guarantee of academic freedom

thumb-yantai3The RUG cannot guarantee that academic freedom and freedom of expression will exist for students and staff at the branch campus in Yantai in China. Board member Jan de Jeu stated that the board takes this issue seriously: it is one of the requisites specified in the request for the campus which will be sent to the Chinese ministry of education.

Yet it is unclear whether students will be able to freely blog on campus or pursue other similar activities. ‘You are in a different societal system and you have to accept that other rules apply’, says De Jeu.

Arts faculty: ‘No reason to panic’

thumb-letteren-harmonieThe financial situation is indeed severe for the arts faculty, but there is no reason to panic, according to dean Gerry Wakker. If costs remain within limits, the faculty should have a balanced budget in 2016. In 2017, the faculty could have an annual deficit of two million euros: if no measures are taken, this will add up to 7.8 million euros in 2019.

According to the faculty board, it is important that student numbers increase but also that students finish their studies on time. The budget will be discussed with the university board on the 16th of October.

Infoversum in financial trouble

thumb infoversumThe Infoversum theatre has only been open a year and is already struggling with payment arrears. Loans of 9 million euros were taken out from the municipality, Rabobank, Rotting Bouw and Centraal Staal in order to build the high tech facility.

Infoversum predicted having 260,000 visitors a year, but last year, only 40,000 visitors came. Two of the three original board members have left the group. The remaining board member, Rita Landeweerd, is not giving any statements about the Infoversum’s future and is looking into what can be done.

No bike shed at Academy building

thumb-fietsenA year ago, RUG president Sibrand Poppema said the only solution to the problems caused by too many bikes in the city centre would be to turn the parking spaces at the Academy building into a bike shed. But those plans have been put on ice for now.

Library communications employee Frank den Hollander does not see this as a problem. ‘Stewards approach students who park their bikes in the wrong place’, he says. He also does not think Popemma’s plan will work because ‘students want their bikes as close by as possible’.

Aletta Jacobs prize for Petra Stienen

thumb-Petra-StienenArabist Petra Stienen will receive the 2016 Aletta Jacobs prize for her work in strengthening the voices of women in the Netherlands and in the Arab world. Stienen studied Arabic at the University of Leiden and has worked as a human rights diplomat at the Dutch embassies in Egypt and Syria, as well as authoring many books.

Stienen will receive the award from rector Elmer Sterken on 7 March 2016, which is the anniversary of the day that Dutch Queen Wilhelmina signed the women’s rights bill in 1919.

Millions in cutbacks for University of Amsterdam

thumb-VUThe Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam must cut back 28 million euros in 2016, followed by cuts of 30 million and 36 million in subsequent years. The cutbacks come as student numbers have declined along with less financing from the government and tuition fees, as well as an increase in accommodation prices and staff expenses.

The VU is expected to be 12 million in debt this year. The University of Tilburg has also announced cuts to support staff, and the RUG is also busy with an overhaul of support services such as admissions, the financial department and Graphic Design & Reproduction.