Party Program 2022

Our Vision

Through strong connections with study associations, participatory bodies, and national politics, UReka strives to voice a well-informed, critical opinion on the policies presented by the executive board and initiates the change the student community of the UT desires to see. UReka sees the university as a platform for self-development and inspiration, where students should receive a world-class education from motivated professors in coherent modules, where internationalisation creates a new perspective and teaches all students what it means to be inclusive and live in a globalised world, learning from each other through face to face interaction.

Activism

Activism is an essential part of our University
UReka values student activism as a way to shape the UT according to the wishes of students and thinks this makes it an essential part of our University. Activism enables personal development of the students and helps expand students’ social networks. This stimulates students to be proactive in their life which has a beneficial impact on the future of every active student. UReka strives for a University that values and encourages activism accordingly.
Grants to deserving Full-time boards
As the University is growing every year, more and more students become part of study associations. Because of this, study association boards need to grow to fulfill the tasks they have. However, with the current FOBOS policy, it is only possible for 5 board members to get fully compensated for certain. UReka strives for a change in the FOBOS policy where also the 6th board member of associations who need this extra board member will be compensated.
Activism supported and stimulated by University
When students want to organise something themselves, it can be a burden for them that they do not exactly know what is expected from them. UReka aims to lower the threshold of becoming an active student by enhancing the communication from the University to students on what the UT requires a student to do if they want to organise something for an association or campus house. Adding to this, UReka finds that the University should make enough spaces available for students to facilitate this extracurricular work, thinking of meeting rooms which you can book for committee meetings or having enough open working areas where you can confer about an event you are organising. 

Student Well-being

UT vision on student wellbeing is needed
The UT is currently lacking a vision on student wellbeing despite this being a goal for 2020 (as stipulated in the Student Wellbeing Improvement Plans from the UT). With the current crisis regarding student wellbeing, this vision is urgently needed. An adequate vision on student wellbeing is needed to steer the UT. The vision of the UT is no longer adequate to deal with the current student wellbeing crisis we have. UReka wants to accelerate the process of helping students in need by, as was done last year, bringing up its own initiatives to stimulate the Executive Board to act more quickly on the pressing matter. UReka also strives to be involved in the working groups/sounding boards which the UT is setting up to tackle the current wellbeing situation. 
Stimulating Social safety
Initiatives surrounding social safety at the UT should be stimulated to improve the feelings of safety and wellbeing of students on and off campus. The use of Confidential Contact Persons (CCP) in associations should be encouraged more in order to ensure that associations can have at least one CCP. The use of CCP is beneficial in that the threshold to approach one is lower than seeking help from a study advisor. UReka feels that it is important that students experiencing a feeling of unsafety at the UT, due to for example sexual harassment, know where they can go to address the issue and are helped quickly and efficiently when doing so. UReka wants to push the Executive Board for a plan on how to ensure that students whose sense of safety is affected by other students can still study at the UT, without disproportionately affecting others and their study progress. Trainings should also be provided to staff and students that could help them support people who have been victims of sexual harassment. Since victims of sexual harassment may not know what to do, this can help them think about the next steps they want to take in relation to their case.
Aligning initiatives surrounding student wellbeing
At the UT, great initiatives are undertaken to improve student wellbeing like the “Look After Your Friend training” by the Student Union, and the Stress Management Workshops by SACC. As UReka, it is our belief that these initiatives should continuously be promoted and supported by the University, to ensure that students are continuously made aware of these trainings. Much like our plea that the UT should form a vision on wellbeing (see UT vision on student wellbeing), UReka believes that a clearer and more uniform approach in regards to wellbeing is needed. We believe that improving the alignment of wellbeing initiatives will contribute to this more uniform approach. Apart from this, UReka sees the need for support after these training sessions. Students that help their peers, like Confidential Contact Persons, and the ones that followed the Look After Your Friend Training can be faced with difficult situations for which they need guidance or support themselves. UReka takes the stance that the UT should be aware of this, but should also be proactive to offer support by for example appointing a contact person from SACC for these students.
Accessibility of mental health facilities at the UT
Student well-being has reached an alarmingly low point due to the pandemic, study stress and international conflicts. Over the last year it has become clear that the demand for mental aid is very high all across the UT. Reaching out to departments offering these mental aid facilities when students are experiencing tough times will currently put them on a long waiting list for an appointment with a professional. Students will ask for help when they need it urgently, and not as a precaution to take care of themselves. The most used facilities are currently the student psychologists. UReka has demanded that the Executive Board provide a plan on how to deal with (unexpected) peaks in demand and will push for the prioritisation of students’ mental wellbeing at every step of the way. 

Next to that UReka sees that the UT has more facilities than only the student psychologists to support struggling students. However, these are not communicated properly. UReka will keep urging the Executive Board to communicate clearly which mental aid facilities the UT offers and how students can reach them. An example of this is a flowchart, which the Executive Board is working on after the last student wellbeing initiative brought forward by UReka.

Education

Quality of Education is leading
First and foremost, the aim of UReka is to guarantee the quality of education. Each decision made by the University on a policy level will have an effect on the overall quality of education, and UReka will always take the educational perspective as a starting point in the conversation. These topics include digitalisation, assessment types, educational models and more. For example, UReka supports small-scale education to ensure that the focus remains on teaching with individual feedback rather than simply broadcasting knowledge.
English level has to be up to par
Currently, the University of Twente has English requirements for students which are lower than other (4TU) universities in the Netherlands. To uphold the academic position and quality of the education at the University of Twente, UReka believes that the entry requirements regarding the English level of all students need to be raised to an equal level to that of comparable universities in the Netherlands. In the past years the faction of UReka has already worked on stimulating this initiative. Last year, English requirements were slightly increased already; but we believe more should be done so that we get on the same level as other universities in the Netherlands. We regard English proficiency of students and staff members as a condition for assuring quality of education.
Physical education is the norm, digital education an additional tool
‘During the lockdowns of the last two years, we as UReka clearly noticed the effects of online education. A lack of interaction and communication between students and staff does not improve the quality of education, nor of any other aspect of student life. Therefore UReka sees physical education on campus as the standard. While digital education can offer great benefits when used as an additional tool on top of physical education, it can not serve as a replacement. The UT can learn from the experiences of the past two years studying the effects of online education. Based on this research, the University can then make well-founded decisions to improve education at the UT. Learning from our past, be it mistakes or triumphs, is something that is vital for the future of our education in Enschede.

Housing & Facilities

Comfort at home by choosing your own housemate
In order for students to be able to thrive and excel in their studies, it is vital to feel at home. Being it home in your house contributes to wellbeing and study performance. To provide this comfortable atmosphere on campus, students should be able to choose with whom they live and where they want to live. Every student should have a fair chance to prepare in advance. Therefore, prospective students deserve to know how the housing system works and what the current market is like before they come here. UReka will continue to stress the importance of transparency and early communication from the UT regarding housing for new students.
UT has moral responsibility on emergency housing
The main responsibility for providing housing for students lies with the Municipality of Enschede, as they make policy on land development projects and land use. This includes projects that increase capacity of student housing or policy for homeowners to rent rooms to students. The UT does not have the power to regulate student housing in the city, but has influence to nudge the municipality in its housing policy. Moreover, the UT can set up initiatives like the emergency housing at the Witbreuksweg, which we support as part of a short term approach. In the University Council UReka will remind and urge the Executive Board to encourage the Municipality to provide more student residences across Enschede. Next to that UReka wants students to be included in the working groups which try to address the housing problem. An example is including the central student tenants council for projects on campus.
Homebase study facilities as the norm
One of the unique characteristics of our University is a culture of group work and social interactions around study places. UReka supports the homebase concept which offers students study spots and lecture locations close to their study association. This allows for a true in-University home for students. In discussions on new developments of facilities UReka will emphasise the importance of more study places and will lobby to have them grouped together so that students of all studies can get to enjoy their own homebase.
Growing Sports and Culture facilities for a growing student population
With the increasing influx of students, we have seen a decline in the availability of facilities for sports and cultural activities. In order to maintain a wide variety of activities in sports and culture for every student, the University has drafted a set of plans to ensure that the capacity of these facilities will increase in the coming years. UReka wants to emphasise these topics and will encourage the University to carry out these plans in a timely manner, with long term flexibility in mind.

Growth

The UT needs a growth strategy!
The University of Twente has seen substantial growth in recent years due to its great name both nationally and internationally, and it will keep growing during the upcoming years. Because of this, it is extra important that a charming and low-key atmosphere is maintained at the University. Small scale education is what the University advertises, interactive learning and personal contact , and why a lot of students choose the UT. Besides this, UReka believes that the University is lagging behind in keeping up with the growth of our student population. Therefore, we see the need for a strategy to ensure that there will be enough staff and space to supervise and educate the growing student population. This strategy should  be communicated to students and there should be a priority for student input in these plans, to ensure that the needs of students are met.
Increase in students is increase in study facilities
The University is a great place for both learning and socialising. UReka wants the educational buildings as well as the library to have enough open spots for students. As the student population grows, the facilities should expand in order to ensure a spacious and comfortable study atmosphere with study spots and lecture locations close to the study associations creating a homebase for students. Because of the capacity problem at the UT,  a concrete plan should be written to resolve the shortage of lecture rooms. UReka thinks it is unacceptable that a relatively large percentage of lectures must be given online because of this shortage, when most students want and need physical education.

Digitalisation

Increasing student input on digitalisation
For example, with the recent migration to Outlook, a big share of the student population was upset about not being effectively consulted and informed in regard to the changes that were made. Despite those changes being made with the privacy and data protection of the students in mind, practices such as the 2-factor authentication or the usability of Outlook are not well received by students. We want to ensure that if new changes in the IT & software are made by the UT, several groups of students are consulted and included in the decision-making process.
Facilities for hybrid & online lectures should be aligned with demand
We want to facilitate an overall effective provision of online and hybrid lectures, but only when they are necessary. This requires both a general technology proficiency of staff members as well as fitting facilities & equipment. We envision support staff and/or teaching assistants to help with setting up the stream as well as moderating and filtering the chat, so that the lecturers can fully focus on the lecture content to improve the quality of education. 

We expect that recording equipment is provided & maintained in all lecture halls and that the provision of lecture recordings will be streamlined. Specifically we envision facilities and assistance provided on campus, such as Light Boards inside of proper ‘recording rooms’ allowing lectures to create online content as an additional tool. We deem the provision of general workshops on how to design such online content as very crucial and suggest that such opportunities are provided to staff, to make effective use of the aforementioned facilities.

UT in the digital domain
Students at the University rely on different online facilities such as the online library. We want to make sure that these facilities are maintained and made readily available to all students at the University. Furthermore, we also think that it is crucial to evaluate current access to databases for online papers. We believe that the access is currently too limited for the wide range of research and graduation projects carried out at the UT. We, therefore, deem it crucial to encourage the University to enhance the current digital facilities by, for example, expanding the existing online library. Currently various different tools for online lectures are used within study programmes. We want to streamline this and embed one online software program within the infrastructure of the UT to facilitate and create effective workflows for education.

Communication & Transparency

Increasing visibility of the University and Faculty Councils
As UReka, we strive to represent the students at the UT. This is our task as Faculty and University Council representatives. In order to do so, students should be aware of the existence and role of the University Council. We endeavor for the UT community to have a clearer understanding of what the University Council is and what we do. By increasing the visibility of the Council to the UT Community, we hope to better represent all students. It is our aim to have the University Council as a readily known and visible participation body within the UT.
Establishing more transparent communication
Related to increased visibility is transparent communication. To effectively represent students, it should be clear to the UT community what the Council is discussing. Students and staff should be able to assess whether they are properly represented and that the relevant topics are discussed. Concise, understandable and transparent information provision and communication culture (i.e. open and proactive) is key in UReka’s view. We pursue a more open and transparent governance culture, where students are better informed about the activities that the Council undertakes.
Creating an accessible UT website
A majority of university students struggle with finding the desired information on the UT website and opt to navigate the site by searching through their browser instead. Despite the UT acknowledging this problem and having reworked the website in the past year, it is still not fit for intuitive use. We as Ureka want to encourage that the responsible committee of the UT will effectively rework the website based on student input. Specifically, we envision a more tailored website experience, where the website visitor can select which role (e.g. student, researcher, lecturer, business) they have and receive information specifically relevant to them. Important information for students should be easily accessible, such as information about psychologists, career services or housing and not hidden within a muddled web of submenus.
Organising and coordinating initiatives in the UT
The UT is filled with various different initiatives, organised by different working groups, associations and other organisations. It frequently occurs that different parties are working on an interconnected or very similar project, but are not in contact with each other. As UReka, we see it as the task of the EB to improve coordination, alignment and exchange between different initiatives. This not only fosters fruitful collaboration but additionally creates a transparent overview, allowing students to raise new initiatives and place them effectively in the landscape of the UT. Facilitating this should be done in close collaboration with all involved parties. 
Information for International students
Every international student at the UT faces a challenge on integration to the Twente Education Model, UT culture, and/or Dutch culture. Accumulated, organised, timely and efficient information throughout the study is important for these students, and not only limited to massive information dissemination at the start of the university. UReka supports and encourages personalised guidance through programmes and organised and timely information to international students, in addition to the general student information the UT should provide. We believe this can be achieved through student input, and constant evaluation and monitoring of the process of information provision.
Linking Executive Board with the students
The Executive Board makes decisions that include finances, strategy and academic policy. UReka acts as a voice from the students in this decision making, but UReka believes in the openness of the Executive Board to all students. Accessibility of the decision-making and reachability should be on the top of the list for any decision made. By creating awareness to the UT hierarchy and UT processes, UReka believes that more student-led initiatives would arise.

UT & Society

Companies integrated with the University & Entrepreneurship
UReka values collaboration between companies and the University. This collaboration is of great importance to prepare students for their future careers. This is not limited to ‘career encouragement’ alone, but self-development as well. UReka wants to set up proper collaborations with the UT and enterprises to provide proper career orientation for the students. We also want to support the Incubase and other existing support structures for young entrepreneurs at the UT. UReka strives to support entrepreneurship by students. This is realised by committing ourselves to making sure that students maintain ownership over their ideas.
Kennispark as an extension of the UT
One of the unique aspects of studying at the UT is the ‘Kennispark’ area. Kennispark provides a place for starters and start-ups to develop themselves after their studies. Kennispark is therefore crucial to keeping talent in Twente and stimulating the local economy. UReka thinks that the connection between Kennispark and the UT should be encouraged and facilitated in the shape of socially relevant project work. The UT should also work together with Kennispark in helping students during their career orientation. Currently, the Incubase offers support to students who want to realise their innovative business idea. 

Kennispark is one of the areas of Twente that students encounter often since it is located right next to the campus. Therefore UReka thinks that the sense of coziness that is unique to our campus should be reflected there.  We will urge the Executive Board to ensure that the Municipality maintains good infrastructure between Kennispark and the campus, to allow a natural transition from studying at the UT to working at Kennispark. 

Bringing the University back to the region
Both letters in the abbreviation ‘UT’ are of equal importance to UReka. Not only are we a University, but we also hail from Twente and see how our university can benefit the region. Through initiatives such as the Employability of International Students minor, we aim to keep student talent in Twente; even after graduation. We will encourage projects that help students integrate within the regional culture surrounding our beautiful campus. 

Even though our University is situated in the Netherlands, we also have a close connection with our German neighbours. Collaboration within the region should not be limited to the Netherlands, but should cover the Euregio which includes many German municipalities close to Enschede. Twente is a unique region with a unique company environment, and maintaining contact between the UT and these regional companies is vital to allow the region to benefit from the UT.

The UT on the (inter)national stage
The UT is an educational institution with a strong focus for the human touch and a high consciousness of its place in society. We cannot pretend that our study lives are not affected by outside influences imposed by national or international governments. The UT should provide students with suitable support when the (inter)national environment demands us to do so, and maintain good communication with those affected by a crisis situation when it arises. 

Campus

The campus is a base for student driven innovation
One of the unique selling points of our University is the campus and the possibility for students to develop themselves there. Working on campus and being there allows students to inspire each other with their innovative ideas and is also beneficial to their social development. Over the past two years students have not been able to experience the campus atmosphere. UReka strives for the return of students actively working on campus. Project work, student activism and student entrepreneurship thrive on creative collaboration. Therefore, we support initiatives that pull students towards actively participating in student life on and around campus.
Students should be better involved with campus public space
Each year the University develops new points of improvement to enhance the look and feel of the campus. New additions to our public campus space are often carried out without consulting students. This not only leads to possible dissatisfaction among those who spend most of their study life on the campus, it is also a missed opportunity to use the inspiration and creativity of students in for example art works. Moreover, the practical use of infrastructure or facilities is not always considered which can sometimes even lead to dangerous situations, like at the new campus entrance. The timing of maintenance work is also important and careful planning should lead to only limited nuisance for students on campus. Moreover, maintenance work should always be communicated well to students. We will push the University to involve the student perspective in the maintaining and upgrading of the campus to create an environment where everyone can thrive.
The campus is both a place for celebration and concentration
We see events on campus as a highly beneficial addition to the vibrant atmosphere of the University. However, we also see that the timing of these events does not always benefit the studying schedule; for example, loud events should not take place during exam weeks. We want to push the University to consider the timing of external events, in every instance whilst still maintaining the possibility to host them. This will hopefully ensure that one of the strengths of our beautiful campus environment does not become a weakness.