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.
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.
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.
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.