An overview of most of the discussions Faction 2022-2023 has been active in relevant for student affairs. In the Council, we have also discussed a lot of other topics, but our input there is less directly related to student affairs. The points below are very briefly explained, so they might miss the full context or nuance, in case you are curious to get a deeper explanation behind a certain point, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Achievements and contributions Faction '22-'23
- stressed in many discussions that student activism and student-led organisations are a core part of our university and that we should continue to facilitate student activism. The Executive Board (EB) has recognised that this is the case.
- adressed that examination boards should consider recognised activism as a valid reason for study delay. The EB recognised that this should be the case but acknowledged that they can not formally influence these decisions.
- brought up that many associations that play a vital role in studying at the UT face difficulties finding new boards. This topic has been put on the agenda for next year.
- Proposed, together with DAS, to lower the FOBOS grants they receive so that the new division is fairer towards boards of study, sports, student, and culture associations.
- stressed the importance of improving the visibility of the well-being initiatives and the UT help structure for students. Together with DAS and UT-departments, UReka worked to align the UT wellbeing structures. Additionally, UReka is active in a working group to create a flowchart for the UT help structure.
- asked for a central procedure for supporting students and staff from crisis countries, after UReka has previously stressed the importance to provide extra support for students and staff from crisis countries. The UT has responded by improving the help structure.
- addressed a social safety issue, where people from outside campus came to campus and harassed UT students. Campus Security was made aware of this issue.
- asked questions about the perceived lack of alignment between study advisers, difference in the quality of guidance, and the inconsequent information provision to study advisers, which the UT will now investigate.
- has been involved in discussions at our university as well nationally with the ministry of OC&W to retain the BSA system. While more personal guidance is needed and good treatment of exceptions, the current BSA is better than a national standard of 30ECTS. For reference, see here.
- repeatedly brought up the importance of the UT being transparent in early communication regarding the extended BSA. Students with personal circumstances deserve assurance early during their first year that they will receive an extended BSA. The rector recognised this issue.
- continued to push for English standards on par with Delft and Eindhoven. This has led the UT to change its English testing procedure, with the goal of assuring quality of education, especially in a project group context.
- continued to fight against the introduction of additional evening lectures. Extra evening lectures were brought up as a potential measure for the lack of capacity. However, this is not a solution as it is detrimental to student life and wellbeing. This measure has been put off the table.
- voiced critical questions about the UT’s plan to accommodate 8000 ‘LifeLongLearners’ next to existing students, while the UT is facing capacity issues. The EB responded that LLL will be planned around regular education in the evenings and weekends so that regular education will not suffer.
- brought up that switching studies during the first year is difficult. Every year many first-year students realise that the programme they chose is not where they belong and decide to switch to a different programme after the first or second quartile. Right now, the TEM and enrollment regulations create a barrier to effective switching within the first year, so often students have to wait out the rest of the year and start again in September. The rector has recognised this issue and the UT will explore the changes that can be made to the system to increase flexibility.
- provided constructive feedback on the vision on Teaching and Learning. This has resulted in a better structure in the vision.
Campus & Sustainability
- has been actively involved in the discussion on future developments on the O&O square. Original plans to improve the attractiveness of the O&O square included vague notions of making the O&O square bike free. With the input of UReka an improved plan has been worked out that guarantees enough bike parking capacity around the O&O square. Moreover, UReka advised communicating the vision behind the redevelopment of the O&O square so that students understand why the O&O square layout is going to change. Secondly, UReka advised the UT to organise participation sessions with students and staff on the design of outside workspaces and new greenery that are going to be developed.
- advised making more use of opportunities to use student initiatives or module projects in the curriculum to contribute to our physical environment. And for already existing student projects UReka has advised making these more visible. The UT aims to promote these more.
- together with other council factions expressed concerns about energy wastage at the UT. If the university wants to be an “enlightened example” for society, it should not leave the lights on in buildings at night. On a more serious note, the UT confirmed that improving the insulation and decreasing energy leakage of the real estate is a very high priority, as included in facility maintenance plans.
- called out the UT on using external companies to call random students. The UT has acknowledged that this is undesired and has stopped this practice.
- continued to be active in the Employability of International Students workgroup. This workgroup is aimed to improve the employability of international students within the region and to offer support in preparing international students for working in the Netherlands. The minor Going Dutch has had its successful start this year and will continue next year.
- provided a nuanced and realistic perspective on internationalisation at the UT in an interview for Campus Magazine. The topics of financing, employability, wellbeing, onboarding, mobility, and working together in multicultural project groups were discussed.
Housing & Facilities
- stressed the importance of keeping Sports and Culture facilities up to date with student numbers. The UT supports 50% more students than what the facilities were designed for originally. The UT has developed a plan to increase capacity in the short term, through temporary buildings. UReka and DAS have been monitoring the progress of these efforts.
- has been actively involved in discussions on long-term real estate planning of the UT and has emphasised the importance of expanding facilities for Sports and Culture long term.
- asked the UT to improve communication to prospective students regarding housing. This has resulted in an extra information campaign from the UT to explain prospective students how the housing situation works. The information campaign includes tips to new students on how to find a house and stresses the importance of arranging housing before the start of the academic year.
- proposed to use empty education rooms more flexible. At the end of every quartile, there is a shortage in student project rooms, while the occupation of lecture rooms is lower as most lectures are taught at the beginning of the quartile. Therefore, UReka proposed to use unoccupied (smaller) lecture rooms for project self-study. The UT is going to look at what is possible on this front. Additionally, UReka advised to communicate possibilities to students in buildings, so that if lecture rooms are available for group work, students are aware that they can use these.
- been actively part of a university-wide discussion on growth. Highlighting the need for expanded facilities on the UT for a growing student population, as well as stressing the need to work together with the municipality to get enough housing in the region for students and young professionals.
- UReka participated in a university community discussion on growth to emphasise the above-mentioned point.
Communication & Transparency
- made a request to the Executive Board for increasing the visibility of the University Council. & participation. A working group has been set up in which UReka takes seat.
- advised the UT to communicate to students when the tuition fee will be withdrawn in case of delays. This year, there was a delay, but this was very poorly communicated, which resulted in students not knowing what was going on. The UT acknowledged the issue and sought to improve alignment between the departments involved.
- advised on various topics to improve communication and in general advised to use present-day means of communication. As an example, the UT regarded the student portal as an important medium for communication, whereas many students do not even know this exists.
- highlighted the importance of approaching the topic of AI swiftly and getting a taskforce started to find effective solutions. A member of UReka has joined the working group on AI in Education and takes an active role in fighting for the opinion of students in the process and to open up the discussion to all students at the UT.
- been very active in the discussion on the UT’s COVID scenario planning at the start of the academic year. While it turned out to not be relevant past year and hopefully will not be relevant in the future, back in early autumn 2022 UReka pushed for extra resit exams to be included in case of a new COVID outbreak. After long discussions, a clause was added to the policy stating that in case of a large outbreak, programmes have the freedom to provide students that missed an exam due to covid an extra opportunity for the exam. Fortunately, there was no large-scale outbreak of COVID, so this clause has not been in effect.