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.
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.
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?”