Blog and opinion
20 December 2017 • by Mathieu Hemelaar
How deep is the valley?
I’m pessimistic about the future of our university of applied sciences. As chairman of your elected General Council, what I’m observing is that THUAS has ended up in a crisis. The General Council is not only critical and powerful but also resilient and looking for constructive ways to have the Executive Board make the right decisions. With regard to the latter, however, this has been less successful, as I will illustrate here.
The budget for 2018 was announced this week.
Another 25 full-time teaching positions will be eliminated in 2018. In a previous blog, I had already calculated that the ratio of teaching personnel to education management staff (OP-OBP) had been completely out of control since the last reorganisation. And it’s getting worse instead of better: only 15 full-time members of the education management staff are being eliminated. In January 2018, 20 new permanently employed staff members will be added to the IT service department. In 2018, the OP-OBP ratio will drop from 64:36 to a deep point of 62:38. (Will this be temporary or not?) In its framework letter written in October, the General Council agreed that the OP-OBP ratio would improve as of that time. Well, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s all going to get even worse in 2018. Education is now feeling the brunt of our school’s financial restructuring.
Educational results even worse off
Educational success rates and the degree of satisfaction among students regarding their education are declining. Both the foundation year and graduation success rates are downright poor. More long-term students are not receiving government funding, and the plans made by the Executive Board in this regard will also include a penalty on top of this: the number of full-time lecturer positions for long-term students is being cut in half. The pain isn’t being shared equally among teaching personnel and educational management staff but shifted onto education.
Lecturers being overworked
The findings generated by the employees’ satisfaction survey, Het Kompas, made it perfectly clear that the colleagues most directly responsible for academic success – the lecturers – are being overworked. The question in the survey about this was: ‘I am satisfied with the time I have available to conduct my work.’ The score for this among non-lecturers (support personnel employed by service departments and faculty offices) was 3.7 (a score of 7.4 on a scale of 1 to 10). The score among lecturers was dramatically lower: 2.7. This would be 5.4 on a scale of 1 to 10; in other words, a definitely failing grade. A THUAS announcement issued by the Executive Board about the findings generated by Het Kompas didn’t even mention this distressing difference in workload. The term ‘workload’ appears to have disappeared from the Executive Board’s vocabulary.
Who can explain this?
Who can explain why 25 full-time lecturer positions have to go? Who can explain how you can get better academic success rates with fewer lecturers and more IT personnel? Who can explain how you can have this situation and still build a financially future-proof university of applied sciences that offers a good education? If you have answers, I’d like to hear them.
Mathieu Heemelaar is Chairman of the General Council and a Social Educational Care lecturer. He keeps a blog on the importance of counterforce.