November Update

Working group: Campus and Sustainability

The campus and sustainability working group has been busy in recent months. The main themes are to make the campus greener and more sustainable. Important topics include planting greenery in the area in front of Linneaus, creating more biodiversity, offering more vegetarian options in the buildings, recycling mugs, better separation of waste and circularity. What also plays a role are study workplaces; there is more of a desire for ‘zoom’ cubicles on campus and the change of the workplaces at all. Lecture halls are also examined in this regard. We also participate in discussions about the campus plan; this is discussed with us where our ideas are most welcome. An example of this is a pilot that will soon start on the longer use of lockers (think of ~72 hours) and a ‘roam’ library. In addition, we would also like to see the campus more lively; with more space for culture and sport. There are also many conversations about this. Fortunately, many policy workers are very cooperative and just as enthusiastic as we are!

Working group: Education and ICT

Over the past period, the Education & ICT working group has mainly been working on the design of education during and after the pandemic. The transition to a more digital learning environment must be managed in the right direction. Hereby we listen to the experiences of students. In this context, we have also sent a memorandum to the Executive Board (CvB) with great urgency. The memorandum was prompted by the worrying noises we heard from students who were encouraged to come to the university to take their exams, even with corona-related complaints. This is worrying because either students do not take the exam and register for the resit, or students are still expected to take the exam. Both choices in themselves have a huge negative impact on the students. Think of study delay, but also the feeling of insecurity that is created for other students. In the memorandum, we request the Executive Board to offer alternatives to physical exams at least until the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. In addition, the working group has been busy providing input for the new educational vision and we are discussing setting up innovative forms of interdisciplinary education with employees.

Working group: Wellbeing and Inclusion

In the Welfare & Inclusion working group, we spent the first few months mainly surveying the ongoing projects. Within our working group, a subgroup focusing on the welfare and inclusion of international students was quickly formed. Improving the position of this group of students will also be one of the focus points of this working group this year. Other topics we are working on include the identity of the university, project student support 2023, visibility of the confidants and the aftermath of corona. In addition, we have been talking to various staff members who are knowledgeable about wellness and diversity at our university. We hope that this year we can do our bit for the well-being of all students at Radboud University. We would like to do this by getting involved with large structural issues, but also by smaller deeds such as handing out a free cup of coffee and offering a listening ear.

Working group: Active Student

As was the case in previous years, the Active Student Working Group is once again committed to recognizing, raising awareness of and encouraging active student life. We are doing this through many projects. In the first policy cycle we started working on the contents of the introduction week since the “corona edition” has taught us a lot. We are working on the good things to take with us for when we can hold the introduction week again as usual. Furthermore, our members have been present at the master fair and the master open day, to talk about the active student life and what you can do next to your studies. These are just two of many projects that we are working on this year. If you have any questions or encounter problems related to the active student life do not hesitate to contact us!

Working group: Visibility & Relations

In the past weeks this work group was mostly busy with planning a reception for the University Student Council, which now unfortunately had to be cancelled again due to COVID. Also other future activities are influenced by this uncertainty, which is very unfortunate. Nevertheless are we trying to be visible and show every student what we are working on. By uploading posts on LinkedIn, Instagram and facebook we promote events that are relevant for students and inform about the projects we are busy with. We are glad about all the input we get from students from all different channels. That way we can make sure to address your concerns and we know what to work on.

In the future we hope to connect again on campus with you through events like the student participation day, Radboud XL or small coffee stands where you can come by and let us know about your opinion. Until then connect with us via our socials either on Instagram, facebook or LinkedIn.

Cyclus update!

Consultation meeting UGV/OR/USR with Executive Board, March 22nd, 2021

In this update, the USR dwells on the main points that were identified during the Consultative Meeting. In the Consultative Meeting, the Works Council (OR) and the University Student Council (USR) enter into discussion with the Executive Board (CvB). The agenda included the follow-up memorandum on Proctorio and the User-Owner Model (GEM), with the first topic dominating the discussion. 

This meeting was also the last one with the current composition of the Executive Board: vice-chair Wilma de Koning became general director of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) on June 1. Daan Willems, president of the USR, thanked Ms. De Koning on behalf of the UGV for her commitment to Radboud University in recent years and wished her good luck in her new job.

Proctorio

An eventful cycle in which the predominant vote was Proctorio. Last cycle the UGV was allowed to vote on the framework for the deployment of Proctorio. In preparation, the UGV was allowed to ask the rector and a number of policy staff questions about the documents provided during a committee meeting earlier in the month. During the Consultation Meeting, the emphasis is more on policy questions. For the UGV, a number of issues were not yet (sufficiently) clear, for example, on what exactly we had to agree to: is the use of Proctorio only possible in individual cases or should it be used on a large scale? In addition, the timeline for the Faculty Joint Meeting (FGV) was not sufficiently elaborated. Given that the FGV is responsible for the actual granting of Proctorio and they also have to agree to including Proctorio in the OER, it is important that this is clear beforehand. In addition, the question of whether lecturers/examination boards were actually using Proctorio as a last resort could, in the opinion of the majority of the UGV, not be sufficiently answered. 

On the basis of the documents provided and the discussion during the Consultation Meeting, the UGV was not sufficiently convinced that Proctorio serves a legitimate interest. That is why a small majority of the UGV voted against the use of Proctorio on Monday, March 29. More information? Then click here.

User-Owner Model (GEM)

Due to the extensive discussion on Proctorio, only written responses to the UGV’s questions on the GEM have been received. The GEM is primarily about the distribution of housing costs. The objectives are (1) efficient operation of the buildings on campus, (2) sustainable and optimal use of the buildings on campus and (3) common burden sharing. During the preparatory committee meeting, questions were asked about any adverse effects on working and teaching spaces. The document was now before the GV for information only. The final version will be discussed in June, including our input. 

Cyclus Update!

Consultation meeting UGV/OR/USC with Executive Board, January 25, 2021

In this update, the USC reflects on the main points that were identified during the Consultative Meeting. In the Consultative Meeting, the Works Council (OR) and the University Student Council (USR) discuss with the Executive Board (CvB). The Executive Board sends a number of documents for information, advice or assent. To arrive at a well-considered advice, the Works Council and USC have the opportunity to ask questions. In this update we will consider the following points: Directive Temporary Reduction BSA, the Governance Model, Green and Car-Free Campus and the results of the employee survey.

Directive on temporary lowering of the BSA

On January 11 several parties and student councils from all over the Netherlands, including the USC Nijmegen, wrote a letter to the Executive Board to consider lowering the BSA given the current circumstances. The Association of Universities (VSNU) has jointly advised to lower the BSA 10 to 15%. In this way each university can give direction on how they want to implement it. The USC sat down with the rector and gave advice on what is most workable. Eventually it was decided that the BSA will be lowered by 6.5 EC for current first year students. Students who received a maintained recommendation last year also have to obtain 6.5 EC less. As USC, we are very happy with this outcome: students have less stress to pass the BSA since there is one subject less to pass and also they do not have to walk around with the same stress the next year.

Governance model

The Executive Board has had the governance model of the university described and has had a proposal made for more harmonization of the organization and governance. This document describes what certain functions entail and what the tasks of a certain body within the university are. With the co-determination we were generally positive about the document. However, there were questions about the implementation and we tried to make it clear that a good plan of action is also needed to implement it all. The UGV gave a positive recommendation.

Green and car-free campus

Within ‘Duurzaam Bereikbaar Heyendaal’ work is being done on keeping the campus sustainably accessible. In this document we looked at how to reduce the number of cars on the campus. In an exploratory study we looked at whether it is feasible to actually create a car-free campus, taking into account the consequences of the physical and mobility measures. As USC, we are a supporter of this project to ensure that the university becomes even more sustainable. We have raised questions about the timeline and feasibility. It is known that certain traffic points around campus will now become busier. The CvB will also discuss this with surrounding neighborhoods and districts to see how the plans can be implemented in good consultation.

Staff survey results

An additional staff survey has been conducted to see how employees of the Radboud University are doing. Due to the corona crisis many staff have to work (more) from home and the workload has further increased. The survey shows that corona has considerable consequences for health and work perception. Physical and especially mental health has deteriorated in comparison to before the corona crisis. There is also less solidarity with Radboud University and colleagues and it also has a negative effect on work-life balance. About the communication the staff is reasonably satisfied. Another issue was the work pressure. The survey revealed that 50% of the staff had worked from home in the past 6 months. Positive experiences included more flexibility, no travel time and costs, and more peace of mind. On the other hand, there were also obstacles. (Too) little contact with colleagues/supervisors, (too) little change in the environment and a poorer work/life balance. 65% of the employees want to work at home for at least 25% after coronation time. The Works Council did have some questions about this point. For example, the only option was to fill in that you could work 0-25%. If you did not want to work at home at all, i.e. 0%, you could not indicate this properly. A new survey will be carried out shortly in which the 0% and 100% options will also be added.

Workload

Finally, the work pressure. Even before the corona crisis, the workload, especially among academic staff, was already high. Due to the crisis, the many working from home, hybrid education and personal circumstances, this is only reinforced. Also in comparison to the previous personnel survey, the difference between experienced and desirable work pressure has increased. The Works Council receives many complaints about this and employees are looking for solutions. Soon the USC, OR and the CvB will sit down together and see what is possible to offer both short and long term solutions. As USC, we see this problem. Yet we hope that the measures will not be at the expense of education.

Daan Willems, as chairman, issued the following statement on behalf of the USC: “We see the concerns of the teachers and would like to know what the CvB is going to do to solve these cases and prevent them in the future. This is a very undesirable situation not only for teachers, but also for students. Although we understand the decision, we as USC cannot support this, because this ‘solution’ for teachers has major implications for the quality of education. This shows how complicated and urgent the reduction of workload in higher education is. We understand the need to prioritize the distribution of workload, but the USC believes that education at a university cannot be cut in such a way. Does the college also believe that reduction of workload can no longer be a long-term vision and must be solved in the short term?”

Cyclus Update!

Consultative meeting UGV/OR/USC with Executive Board, December 7, 2020

In this update, the USC shares the main points identified during the Consultation Meeting. In the Consultative Meeting, the central co-determination has the opportunity to ask questions about policy documents in order to then make a good and well-considered recommendation and/or vote. This meeting focused on the budget and the reorganization of the HOVO.

Budget 2021

In the Annual University Budget Plan, the university indicates what it plans to do with its finances in the coming year. The UGV (Works Council + elected members of the USC) has the right to advise on this document, which means that they must advise the Executive Board and the Board may only deviate from this with good reason. Both the USC and the Works Council had a number of questions about the budget in advance. The underlying documents for some of the plans had not yet been submitted to the USC, which made it difficult to ascertain whether the expenses were justified. Essential policy documents that were missing included the Campus Plan, the iStrategy and the Housing Vision.

In addition, a number of assumptions were made that the UGV also questioned. For example, it has been said for years that the intake of students will decrease, but this is (still) not the case. However, this is budgeted for. It is also included that the vision is that there is a greater need for hybrid work.

All this together has made the UGV decide to issue a negative recommendation. This indicated that we needed the essential policy documents, on which the board based its choices, in order to be able to give an actual advice. On January 4, an extra GV took place at the request of the Executive Board to consider the advice. It was promised that in the future the employee participation body would be shown the policy documents at an earlier stage. The Board also promised to provide the four-monthly and eight-monthly reports in addition to the Annual Accounts. Following this, the UGV changed its advice to a positive one.

Reorganization HOVO

The HOVO training institute organizes courses at the academic level for interested people over 50 years of age. Last summer, the college made the decision to pull the plug as of January 1, 2021, to the disappointment of many course participants and also the co-determination. Due to a price increase in 2016, because VAT had to be levied on the courses, the number of registrations dropped significantly. On top of that, there was also the corona crisis, which meant that course participants did not register for the new courses. We are now looking into the possibility of giving the HOVO a place in the Radboud Academy. In the future there must be a suitable offer for this group.

During the GV it was asked whether it is possible to monitor whether former HOVO students actually make use of the replacement offer. The Executive Board has indicated that it is willing to do this.

Anonymous assessment

Last year, the USC wrote a memorandum requesting that, where possible, all forms of assessment be administered anonymously by using only a student number. The board indicated that in testing periods 2 and 3 it would start a pilot with anonymous grading of a number of tests where this might be easy to realize, such as exams with open questions, exams with multiple choice questions and the assessment by the second grader of graduation papers. The college still had reservations about anonymous assessment of all forms of tests. “Education, in addition to qualification, is also about socialization and formation of the person.” In period 4 of this academic year, the pilot will be evaluated with students and teachers. Based on this evaluation, it will be considered whether or not it is possible to introduce anonymous assessment more broadly.