News of the Week 21
University elections this week
Voting for the university elections is open for one week – between 18 and 23 May – instead of two weeks this year. The duration of the voting was cut in half because the student parties felt their studies suffered due to such a long campaign and most students and staff were done with the elections after a week.
As of Wednesday, 15 to 30 per cent of students have voted – turn out was 83 per cent at the University College Groningen. Among employees, 20 to 45 per cent have already voted. Elections results will be published on 27 May.
University Council chairperson changes
Despite strong initial objections by the staff faction, the student parties’ proposal to change the chairperson position in the University Council has been accepted. From now on, the chairperson must be external and will be elected for a one year term.
Instead of a chairperson and a vice chairperson, five representatives – one from each council faction – and the chairperson will work together with the board of directors to set the University Council agenda. RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens says the board has no comment about this development: ‘This is a matter for the University Council.’
Bussemaker: ‘thousands new teachers’
Education minister Jet Bussemaker promises that thousands of additional instructors will be added to higher education institutions in the Netherlands, enabling schools to focus more on small-scale education. The extra instructors will be paid from money resulting from the financial aid structure changing.
The minister also wants to make studying abroad more attractive. Institutions should offer to reduce tuition, write it off altogether or provide financial aid for students who study both at Dutch and foreign institutions. Bussemaker also wants to broaden access to doing a PhD by enabling professors and lecturers alike to serve as promoters.
New student party in arts faculty
A new party is running for the arts faculty council: Letteren Vooruit (Arts Forward). The party presents a challenge to the only other student party, Lijst Alpha. Letteren Vooruit’s platform is improvement of existing academic programmes rather than adding more, providing more interactive lectures and upgrading ICT facilities to help the faculty get ahead.
Lijst Alpha member Felicia Bakker says Letteren Vooruit’s agenda may be too ambitious. ‘I think that the vision of Letteren Vooruit isn’t realistically achievable because some things are determined at the university level and are therefore beyond our scope.’
Seven vidi subsidies for the RUG
Seven RUG researchers were awarded a prestigious Vidi subsidy this year from the research financier NWO. In total, 509 researchers across the Netherlands applied for a Vidi grant and 87 applicants were eventually awarded funding. Each recipient will get 800,000 euros to begin new research projects.
Chemist Anna Hirsch, materials scientist Edwin Otten, Rosalind Franklin fellow and journalism researcher Tamara Witschge, Dr. Ming Cao of the Engineering and Technology Institute Groningen (ENTEG), enzymologist Albert Guskov, and UMCG staff members Hiddo Lampers Heersping and Wiktor Szymanski were the grant recipients.