Too few instructors for language courses
Over the course of the past week, students who had signed up for either major or minor courses in Spanish, German, Swedish, French or Italian were informed that their classes would begin one week later due to ‘organisational problems.’
‘We are coping with a personnel shortage, especially for the courses that are not being held’, according to associate professor Bob de Jonge. ‘Due to changes in the collective employment agreement, the rules about temporary contracts have been adapted. After two years, a temporary contract has to become a permanent contract or the person involved has to stop working in that position for a while. It takes time to determine whether someone should be hired permanently, and that has to be run by the faculty board.’
According to De Jonge, it had been evident for a while that this would be a problem. ‘We have been aware of it. But because of the structure of the enrolment procedure, we only knew at a very late date how many groups there would be. It is difficult to accommodate that on such short notice. That is why we made the decision to postpone some of the lectures.’
It is a structural problem that impacts the entire faculty, De Jonge says. ‘Beginning next academic year, due also in part to the new minor policy, many language courses will be moved to the first semester. Students will have to make their choice straight away.’ The university will have even less time to anticipate the number of enrolments as a result.
‘The plan is to utilise the first week of courses to do language testing and to sort students into groups and then begin classes in the second week. Particularly for the ‘big languages’ which have so many enrolments, we really need a whole week.’
The lectures which are not being held this week will not be rescheduled. ‘That isn’t possible because of the timing of the exam weeks. What’s more, the number of contact hours is limited to six per week, and raising that is not an option.’
As of next week, the problems will be resolved and the language courses will be held according to schedule, De Jong guarantees: ‘That is one hundred per cent certain.’