1 May 2017 • by Anneke Dam
Co-determination: ‘If you want to change things, you should stand for election’
Elections for the Staff and Student Councils are coming up. Students and staff had until 28 April to submit their nomination for the General Council, one of the sub-councils, or the Degree Programme Advisory Committees. Lecturers Hetty van Dijk and Marjolein Baauw thought about nominating themselves. ‘My advice to students is: vote and let your voice be heard.’
Students aren’t the only ones involved in co-determination; lecturers are, too. They also get a number of hours released from their other duties. Marjolein Baauw has been active in the Degree Programme Advisory Committee for Nutrition and Dietetics for the last three years. ‘In the Degree Programme Advisory Committee, we discuss recurring issues such as timetables, examinations, and the way in which tests are administered. Sometimes, for example, students feel distracted by the behaviour of invigilators during examinations. They could get a lot more done about this by informing their lecturers and the management,’ she said.
Students provide feedback for better education
Lecturer Hetty van Dijk has been a member of the Degree Programme Advisory Committee for European Studies since September. ‘I want to fulfil a bridging function by working with students to improve things like how their study loads could be distributed better over the year. We’ve also organised sounding board sessions and held a survey among third- and fourth-year students about the Education and Examination Rules and Regulations,’ she said. ‘It’s important for the Degree Programme Advisory Committee to collaborate with its Faculty Council. Even in cases when the Degree Programme Advisory Committee is not entitled to participate in the decision-making process, the Faculty Council is, so you can still make your concerns heard indirectly.’ Marjolein: ‘The students in the Degree Programme Advisory Committee are also expected to represent their fellow students properly. This is getting easier. Our students have a class representative in each class who discusses any issues their fellow students might have with the students in the Degree Programme Advisory Committee. This communication goes both ways via the class representatives, so we get a lot of feedback that we can use to improve education.’
Many major changes are coming up soon with regard to our Staff and Student Councils. One of these is that the ratio of students to lecturers in a Degree Programme Advisory Committee is going to change. ‘In our situation, the new Improved Governance (Higher Education) Act means that there will be fewer students and more lecturers in the Degree Programme Advisory Committee. This will change not only the composition of the committee but also its role. Time will tell whether we will still be able to provide effective advice,’ said Marjolein.
Let your voice be heard
Lecturers Hetty and Marjolein notice that students still aren’t that interested in the issue of participating in Staff and Student Councils.
Hetty: ‘We’re going to do something about this including holding a seminar about the Education and Examination Rules and Regulations and making students aware of the importance of co-determination. If you want to change things, you should participate and stand for election.’ Marjolein: ‘Co-determination is important because you can contribute to the quality of education. This is why I’m calling for all students to get out there and vote and let their voice be heard.’