Blog & opinion
7 October 2019 • Mendeltje van Keulen
“Nobody said anything so I assume everyone agrees”
I once saw this phrase in a cartoon about participation in decision-making. It is a tempting statement for assertive administrators and as the brand new chair person of the General Council, the words have crossed my mind. It can lead to fast decision-making but also represents the beginning of the end of democracy. And The Hague University of Applied Sciences is all about democracy. But how do we ensure that our policies and administration can build on everyone’s experience, whether they spend their days teaching, taking classes or working in one of our many offices?
In recent weeks the central, service and faculty councils all got back to work. On Wednesday 18 September there was an inspirational kick-off on Staff and Student Participation in the Auditorium. We heard about the experiences from our colleagues at Fontys University of Applied Sciences, as well as from the HRM education committee. Moderator Jacco van Uden showed a video to illustrate what real listening is (and isn’t). All students and colleagues who had the courage to stand as a candidate this spring and present their constructive ideas for improvement, have a lot of work to do. Together with all administrators we have to ensure that we focus on practice-based and innovative education and research.
The General Council has had its first meeting with the Executive Board. The agenda at this baptism of fire included one pretty big document: the 2020 Framework letter. This document outlines the framework for the work of the faculties and service departments. The next meeting on October 3 will address issues such as the quality test we have to pass as a knowledge institution and which many students and colleagues have helped us write in recent months. The General Council believes it’s important to talk to the Executive Board at an early stage. We also talked about this in an interactive session with small groups composed of students, staff members and the Executive Board, flipcharts and many great ideas. How do we want to work together to determine what we can and cannot do (yet)?
The administrative agenda often includes many, sometimes very lengthy policy documents. The question about staff and student participation is always: ‘what do these lengthy documents mean for making improvements in the classroom and in the workplace?’ Sometimes minor adjustments result in greatly improved satisfaction and quality, for example by sharing experiences more frequently and learning from each other. But sometimes it takes more time, for example when developing a network of universities of applied sciences (in the Netherlands and abroad) where students can acquire new knowledge.
For all these things, the participation councils need your input in the form of experiences, suggestions, best practices and proposals. Talk to us and see how you can connect with us: we will be happy to introduce ourselves to you.
Mendeltje van Keulen
General Council chair