Every year, AKKUraatd writes a new Election Programme. The whole programme is thoroughly worked out by everyone involved within AKKUraatd. The new candidates for the elections create the Election Programme and the finetuning is done by other AKKUraatd members and members of AKKU, with different backgrounds and studies. This way, we create an Election Programme that contains the most important points of improvement at Radboud University. It’s not too long, but no too short either. It prepares us for all things to come during a year in the University Student Council. The whole Election Programme can be read via the link below.
Download the Election Programme here
Go through the election program per subject!
AKKUraatd prioritises good education. We believe that students deserve excellent and challenging education. AKKUraatd values the opportunities the university offers in terms of broadening and deepening knowledge and thinks the university should offer this to all students. We stand by improved study facilities, a sound digital learning environment, and high-quality education. This is why we argue in favour of customised education and an individualised treatment for every student.
- A Personal instead of a Binding Study AdviceThe Binding Study Recommendations (BSA) are a threshold of course credits which students should meet in order to continue their studies. The goal of the BSA should be to help students with making a comparative assessment of whether their study programme is a match for them. However, AKKUraatd has noticed that this strict threshold currently causes students a lot of stress. Moreover, research has shown that a personal advice, coupled with guidance, helps students make a better decision for whether or not the programme suits them than the impersonal measure that is the BSA. The consequence of the current BSA may be that students are forced to quit their studies after nearly a year of hard work. That is why AKKUraatd has dedicated itself to adjusting the BSA for years now. Discussions concerning the role and function of the BSA are also being held on a national level. That is why we think this is the decisive moment to replace the BSA for a Personal Study Advice (PSA). The main argument of the PSA system is that the focus is on guiding those students who may potentially not meet the expected amount of course credits. The guidance, then, is concerned with the question whether the study programme is a match for the student. Based on this guidance, students are the ones who maketake the final decision on whether or not to continue their studies. This way, the system changes from a BSA which forces students to quit their studies to a PSA which offers students control and responsibility for their own study progress. To put it concretely, AKKUraatd proposes the following changes:
1) Active guidance
The BSA is currently a final destination for students to reach during the first year of their studies. Only then will students be guided in determining whether their study programme suits them. AKKUraatd believes that this guidance should take on a more active position before, during, and after the first year. That is why every study programme should offer a good and honest study compatibility check which is not only a bureaucratic formality. Next to that, students should receive extensive information about the BSA before the start of their studies. This session should discuss the amount of ECTS that is expected of them as well as the facilities the university offers in case they may experience difficulties. We also argue for suitable guidance sessions during multiple moments in the first year which focus on the question “does this programme suit me?”. Should students choose not to continue their studies, they should then also be guided in making the right choice for their next programme (if necessary). Students who decide to continue their studies after the first year should also be granted the opportunity to receive guidance in the event that they decide to reconsider their choice.
2) Stress alleviation
The current time and performance strain which is associated with the BSA should be alleviated. In order to help students with this strain, the university’s BSA should become an advice again. Based on the guidance which students receive during their first year, it should be up to the students themselves to make a balanced decision about their studies. Next to that, the advice which is given halfway during the first year should play a larger role in determining the Personal Study Advice. Students who have received less than 24 ECTS after the first semester should be approached to examine whether this deficit is caused by certain circumstances and how these may be remedied. By offering an instance of personal guidance halfway through the first year, a large amount of stress may be alleviated for the rest of the year.
3) Personal plan
For students who have not met the expected amount of ECTS, a personal plan should be drafted. This plan should bear in mind students’ personal circumstances as well as the fact that students need to get used to student life. Students make a lot of new connections during their first year and have to get used to the university and perhaps also to livingliving in student dorms. This way, students who need more time to get used to their studies are also actively offered this opportunity.
4) BSA Policy during the Covid-19 crisis
The Covid-19 crisis has had an enormous impact on the academic progress and well-being of students. AKKUraatd thinks that the university should not punish these students by sending them away via the BSA. Instead, the university should offer them a helping hand by approaching the threshold in a more lenient way in case the BSA will be retained.
Last year, first-year students who did not meet the BSA were allowed to postpone meeting the threshold until the following year. In the second year, students then need to ensure that they pass all first-year courses. AKKUraatd believes that these students should be able to flexibly arrange the course credits required for them and allow them to use (compulsory) courses from their entire bachelor’s programme, not just with courses from the first year.
- More traceable study workplacesFinding a study workplace at university has not always been easy for (new) students, both before the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis as well as the past few months. It is not always possible to locate group workplaces via the university’s reservation system. At the same time, individual study workplaces are often fully booked whilst there are other locations on campus where study workplaces or classrooms are vacant. To improve this situation, AKKUraatd advocates for a university-wide system which makes the availability of study workplaces more visible. Apart from this new system, a sufficient amount of study workplaces should be made available. That is why AKKUraatd takes a stance to ensure that disused classrooms are converted into study workplaces during examination periods. By this system of so-called ‘Chameleon rooms’, classrooms can be used for whatever is in demand at that moment. This way, we can easily and quickly create tons of pleasant study workplaces.
- Purposeful, better, and more online examinationsAKKUraatd has been informed that the possibilities for students to do an internship are worrisome in several faculties. Some programmes do not have room for students to do an internship within the curriculum, or do not have a clear point of contact, whereas others have a shortage of internship posts or do not offer course credits for internships. Next to that, the Covid-19 crisis has caused a lot of internships to be postponed, which may result in a shortage of internship posts next year. AKKUraatd considers internships to be an enrichment of the study programme and intends to optimise the internship process. Doing an internship offers a practical component to the programme, stimulates self-development, helps familiarising students with the labour market, and facilitates networking.
Provided that there is a wide variety of internships in different programmes, AKKUraatd thinks that it is wise to assess the bottlenecks by means of consulting each programme’s Faculty Student Council and Programme Committee. An internship coordinator, for instance, could be appointed to improve and intensify guidance during internships. Secondly, it may be well to develop a website where all internship posts and rules can be explained. On this website, students and internship supervisors can meet one another. Next to that, study advisors and internship coordinators may have a better understanding of internship supply and demand. Prior internship posts can also be registered so that students can be referred more easily. The internship process can also be evaluated per study programme similar to what is already being done with course evaluations. Lastly, by having one clear contact point per study programme, problems can be pointed out more easily.
- You’re entitled to privacyPrivacy is and remains a significant right, especially now that it’s impossible to imagine education without digital means. Thanks to AKKUraatd, safeguarding privacy is even documented in the university’s Strategic Plan. Unfortunately, AKKUraatd has had to take action several times in the past. Examples are the monitoring of students by means of Learning Analytics and the use of online proctoring. This has to change. First of all, the impact of privacy should be inspected before a new digital means can be introduced. Privacy needs to be secured before it is established. AKKUraatd believes that the university should make explicit how privacy is factored into each decision.
AKKUraatd is critical of the use of digital means which infringe on students’ privacy, such as online proctoring. These means should only be introduced in a very limited number of situations, and only if can be concluded by means of thorough research that there is no better alternative available. Lastly, for these new means to be implemented, it is crucial that participational bodies have granted their explicit consent.
AKKUraatd also believes that (new) teachers should be assisted in handling students’ privacy and data in a safe and confidential manner. This assistance can be executed by means of training and privacy awareness campaigns. To make students more aware of privacy rights, AKKUraatd thinks that study programmes’ curricula should pay more attention to privacy.
- Less study delay as a result of flexible exam regulationsPreventing study delay is an important area of concern for all students. It is unpleasant (and expensive) to experience delay in finishing a course of study. AKKUraatd argues in favour of more flexible exam regulations in which students do not needlessly fall behind in their studies. More specifically, we propose the following measures:
1) Everyone deserves a third opportunity
Study delay is a genuine problem experienced by many students. A third exam opportunity is a simple yet alleviating measure which may prevent study delay. For many students, this may make a world of difference in both the amount of study delay they experience compared to peers as well as the amount of workload for the upcoming year. Should you not pass one resit in the last year of your studies, this may amount to considerable study delay if students are not granted a third exam opportunity. Applying for a third chance is currently a complex and rather inaccessible procedure which students often do not make use of. AKKUraatd proposes to make the third exam opportunity accessible to all students by establishing in which situations students can exercise this right. This way, students will have more certainty about whether or not they are eligible for this third opportunity. The examining board, then, need only take a decision in complex and specific situations, which therefore saves them time as well.
2) Longer registration deadline
AKKUraatd believes that exam opportunities should be accessible to as many students as possible. We therefore want to make the registration for exams more flexible. The registration deadline, which currently amounts to five working days prior to the exam, should be reduced to 24 hours. This way, the number of students who will have missed the registration deadline for resits will decrease. These students will therefore not have to redo the course and consequently experience less study delay. The number of students who have registered for the course already indicates how many students intend to take the exam.
3) Do not allow administrative errors to influence exams
Too many administrative errors are currently being made, for instance in the administration of attendance lists for exams. As a result, AKKUraatd believes that students, wherever possible, should not be denied access to an exam opportunity regardless of whether they are on the list of participants. Their spot in the exam is not guaranteed, but as soon as there are vacant seats and exams, they are allowed the exam opportunity. After the exam, a record will be kept of those who were not on the list of participants to help determine whether the participation was indeed legitimate. This helps reduce unnecessary stress and loss of time at the start of the exam, but also reduces potential study delay and missed exam opportunities due to a minor error on behalf of the student or the administration.
- Skills courses for all students
During the Honours programmes, honours students are offered certain ‘skills courses’. Examples of such courses are writing essays, debating, presentation skills, and other courses concerned with academic skills. AKKUraatd aims to make such skills courses accessible to all students. There currently are too fewlittle of the aforementioned skills courses in students’ regular curriculum. Oftentimes, if at all, the curriculum merely consists of Academic Skills/Writing-like courses. AKKUraatd takes the view that said skills courses are of value to all students, not just for students who excel academically. When regular students are granted the opportunity to take said skills courses next to their regular study programme without following the entire Honours programme, this may be beneficial to students’ writing skills, among other things. AKKUraatd argues in favour of offering such courses as an extracurricular component to ensure that students will not take these courses because they have to, but because they can.
- Reinforce faculty’s Career Services and career orientation
Next to offering ample opportunities for internships, AKKUraatd believes that all students should have the possibility to enter the labour market well prepared after their studies, especially during the Covid-19 crisis. The National Student Survey shows that preparing students’ for job opportunities and the labour market leaves room for improvement in many (master’s) study programmes. Radboud University currently pays attention to the labour market, yet AKKUraatd sees how the supply does not always fit in with students’ desires. We therefore propose the following three improvements:
1) Closer acquaintance with the labour market during the course of study
Getting acquainted with the labour market is a crucial prerequisite for students’ development. It is of the utmost importance that study programmes offer labour market-related activities and guest lectures so that students know about the possibilities after their studies in due time. AKKUraatd believes that the university should draw up guidelines which consist of a minimum number of activities and/or lectures which help students get a picture of the labour market in their respective field of study, as a consequence of having a good relationship with professional organisations.
2) Better guidance at the end or immediately after your studies
The most important moment to receive career counselling is at the end of your studies or whenever you have recently graduated. Aside from a faculty-wide career week, the focus is currently primarily on CV-, motivation letter, and LinkedIn checks. The supply of career counselling is currently too general and therefore not centred around the respective study programme’s graduates’ future labour market. AKKUraatd believes that Radboud University should offer students more assistance in the transition from study programme to labour market. This can be effectuated via guest lectures, plenary information sessions, or network sessions with the study programme’s alumni. It is crucial that the supply of career guidance is made as specific to the respective study programme as possible.
3) More attention for international students’ career perspectives in the Netherlands
A substantial number of international students who do an entire degree at Radboud University would like to stay in the Netherlands after their studies. AKKUraatd has successfully devoted itself to make more language courses available for these internationals for years now. It appears that more is necessary, however. More attention should be paid to internationals when considering the existing initiatives for career counselling. For example, part of the workshops and services are currently not available to international students, since these are only offered in Dutch. Next to that, there should be more assistance to help integrate international students in the Dutch labour market. That is why AKKUraatd argues in favour of an improved focus on international students in terms of career guidance, with a supply which acknowledges their desires and ambitions.
- Free choice in interactive on-campus or online educationAKKUraatd thinks that students should be offered on-campus education as soon as possible. A lot of students miss being in contact with others and yearn for on-campus courses instead of attending lectures online from their student dorm. Whilst on-campus education has great benefits, courses should also be made accessible in an online format. The acquired experience and improvements of the past year should not be wasted according to AKKUraatd. This way, we can ensure that students who cannot or do not want to attend on-campus lectures can still attend their lectures online without problems.
Nevertheless, the interaction between students and teachers is fundamental to good academic training. AKKUraatd therefore argues in favour of offering online courses in a live and interactive environment whenever possible. The improved availability of online education also has its benefits beyond the Covid-19 crisis. AKKUraatd does however insist that online lectures should not become a replacement of small-scale on-campus education. Students themselves should have the final say in whether they want to attend lectures on campus or online.
- Stimulate and facilitate interdisciplinary and interfaculty educationAKKUraatd believes that study programmes have a lot to offer to one another and therefore argues in favour of more interdisciplinarity in education. Taking courses in other disciplines and faculties and with other students does not only broaden students’ knowledge, but also prepares them for the increasingly diverse labour force. However, students experience many unnecessary obstacles when they want to take courses or follow a minor programme in another discipline as it is often unclear which possibilities are offered by the university. To further stimulate interdisciplinary and interfaculty education, AKKUraatd proposes the following improvements:
1) More and explicit information about the possibility of taking courses outside the standard curriculum
During their studies, students’ attention should actively be drawn to the potential possibilities outside students’ curriculum. They also need to be supported in their search for these opportunities. Next to that, all courses and minor programmes which are accessible to all students should be made available on a university-wide, easy-reference course and minor guide, instead of clustering the information per faculty. This way, students can choose which courses suit them, regardless of their own study programme or faculty.
2) Prevent overlap in exams and offer a solution should this occur
Due to the harmonisation of the university’s annual timetable, virtually all exams are scheduled in the same few weeks. Among other things, this causes students to experience overlap in exams, especially when they take courses from multiple study programmes. This way, students are put off to take courses from other faculties, or needlessly have to apply for a resit. AKKUraatd therefore argues to reverse the harmonisation of the university’s annual timetable. Next to that, the university should offer a solution for all these overlapping exams, which is already the case at the Nijmegen School of Management. This way, students can still put together their curriculum at their own discretion.
3) Offer university-wide courses to all students
By offering students the possibility to work together with fellow students from various faculties, students can broaden their knowledge and simultaneously prepare for the interdisciplinary labour market after their studies.
In this day and age, climate change is one of the gravest challenges ahead of us. The field of education ought to train future generations to take on a relevant role in society in which sustainability occupies a key position. AKKUraatd believes that Radboud University should lead the way in the field of sustainability. We argue in favour of integrating sustainability within the core business of universities: education and research. Building on the knowledge within our university, AKKUraatd wishes to contribute to making the university even more sustainable. We also want to strengthen the university’s position as a platform where innovative ideas in the area of sustainability are formulated
- A greener campus
AKKUraatd argues in favour of a low-traffic, green campus where students and employees can be found outside more often during their break, but also during their studies or work. By means of the following proposals, we want to create a pleasant, green campus where everyone can enjoy the outside environment:1) An easily accessible, low-traffic campus
To create a pleasant, quiet, and safe environment on campus, AKKUraatd has advocated for a low-traffic campus for years now. By now, plans have been made to create a low-traffic zone surrounding the Erasmuslaan and the Heyendaalseweg. AKKUraatd would like to press ahead with these plans. Naturally, the campus should still be easily accessible. We therefore emphasise the importance of good public transportation services to the campus. We also want to give cyclists and pedestrians ample space to move around campus.
2) Less brick, more green
There are currently too many bricks and stones in and around the campus. Consider, for instance, the surroundings of the Linnaeus Building. AKKUraatd therefore argues in favour of breaking up the bricks on campus and creating more (diverse) green overgrowth and vegetation instead. By also developing an Erasmus Park, the green environment will be centralised on campus. AKKUraatd also strives for planting more overgrowth on top of buildings. A greener campus creates a stimulating atmosphere, more biodiversity, and is good for the environment.
3) Relaxing in the open air
Our campus already has beautiful surroundings which are often undiscovered. When students and employees are stimulated to visit these places, they are able to relax both during their studies or work as well as in their free time. AKKUraatd thinks that more attention should be paid to these locations by means of actively promoting the recently developed campus trails. Next to that, we want to see to it that the outside environment will also be considered as an option for work, study, and conference locations by creating facilities such as socket points.
- Restrict wasting study materials
1) Digitalise study materials2) A central second-hand book sale system
AKKUraatd is of the opinion that (compulsory) course materials should be offered in a digital format. Prescribed books are barely being used, study materials for lectures needlessly have to be printed, and readers are sometimes hardly even touched by students. The possibility of accessing the study materials in a digital format is barely being referred to, which causes students to resort to unnecessarily printing documents. Next to that, papers and essays often have to be printed, whilst handing them in online also suffices. Education in the time of the Covid-19 crisis has shown that handing in assignments online proves to be successful. All in all, AKKUraatd believes that making study materials more sustainable and digital may help to prevent further waste.
Apart from digitalising study materials, another option is to promote the use of second-hand books. Books are often expensive when you need to purchase a new edition. There are often students or graduates who do not use their books any more and would like to resell them. These books are often in good condition. To make the exchange of study books easier and cheaper, also within study programmes, a central resell system should be set up. This system may be installed via the university’s or the respective faculty’s central website. AKKUraatd argues in favour of reusing study books. This also contributes to making books and study materials more sustainable. Such a centralised second-hand book sale system can be especially beneficial in times of digital education.
- Less plastic on campus
According to the university’s Strategy, the university strives for a more sustainable campus and wants to become a frontrunner in terms of climate and circularity. The best way to contribute to making the consumption of plastic more sustainable is, naturally, to reduce it. Provided that the European single-use plastic guideline (SUP-guideline) takes effect in 2021, Radboud University should apply more focus. The university already takes appropriate measures, for instance by reducing PET-bottles in vending machines. Despite this, our university still makes use of redundant plastics, for instance during Open Days. That is why AKKUraatd argues for a centralised policy which explicitly focuses on plastic, and should at least include the following points:1) A university-wide focus on abolishing single-use plastic merchandise
There is currently too much plastic merchandise being used on campus, for instance during the university’s Open Days but also within associations for students. AKKUraatd believes that there are enough sustainable alternatives available and therefore advocates for a single-use plastic merchandise ban. The university should offer guidance for associations in the transition towards sustainable merchandise. AKKUraatd also wants to set a good example itself and has therefore decided not to purchase nor use any new single-use plastic promotional materials.
2) Reduce plastic usage in laboratories
A lot of plastic is being used once and consequently thrown away in the RadboudUMC’s operating rooms and the university’s many laboratories. Students also use a lot of plastic during practical labs. AKKUraatd argues in favour of a policy which strives towards structurally reducing plastic usage in practical labs and laboratories.
- Promote plant-based alternatives
The meat- and dairy production has a considerable impact on the environment. AKKUraatd thinks that the university should set a good example in the field of sustainability. The amount of animal food products on campus should therefore be reduced and instead replaced by sustainable and plant-based alternatives. To stimulate buying sustainable meals, AKKUraatd strives for catering facilities to provide plant-based alternatives at a lower price than animal food products. AKKUraatd also wants to reintroduce a meatless day across campus to bring vegetarian and plant-based alternatives to the attention of students and employees, for example in the form of Veggie Friday.
- More sustainability in educationIncorporating sustainability in education is a fundamental prerequisite for an effective contribution to a liveable planet and a greener economy. To alert students to be more aware of the challenges that await our generation and educate them to implement the university’s ‘you have a part to play’-message, AKKUraatd strives to include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) in all curricula.
Next to that, the information concerning existing sustainable courses and initiatives can be improved. One example is by means of the sustainable study guide which is currently being developed by the Radboud Green office. Moreover, university-wide ‘green’ courses can be reflected in each curriculum. Lastly, students can also be made aware of the possibilities of the sustainability certificate and the living labs programme.
Except from promoting existing initiatives, sustainability can be integrated in education with a specific focus on the respective study discipline. Three levels in which attention can be paid to sustainability in education are knowledge, competencies and skills, and attitude. This sustainable contribution can be arranged by means of interesting guest lecturers, renewed and enthused modes of instruction, attention to personal training, and reflection. At the same time, cooperation with external parties such as governments and businesses, can be instigated. AKKUraatd wants to increase the focus on sustainability within the core business of Radboud University: education and research.
Student life is about more than just studying. The university is an environment in which you can develop yourself in various ways. It is important that students who dedicate themselves to the student community are supported and that facilities are continuously being improved. AKKUraatd wants more attention for students whose well-being is not at best, as students’ well-being is an important condition for a good student life. AKKUraatd therefore argues in favour of improved facilitation of counselling and support for students. This way, students can both enjoy their student days and acquire experience outside of their studies.
- Focus on student well-being, both during the Covid-19 crisis as well as in the future
Proper student support is essential to students’ well-being: now more than ever. The Covid-19 crisis has put even more pressure on students’ well-being. Never have students felt more lonely, stressed, and disconnected to both one another as well as the university. AKKUraatd thinks it is vital that every student receives the support they need. It should be clear to students who they can address when they need guidance. The step towards this guidance, then, should be made as accessible as possible. We therefore argue in favour of four improvements:1) Prevention
These days, but also in the future, it is crucial that students watch their own well-being carefully as well as knowing how to increase this. AKKUraatd argues in favour of a platform that insightfully shows who to address for external help (study advisor, student psychologists, etc.). Via this platform, one can also find lifestyle advice, for instance via workout videos, mindfulness, and healthy recipes. This way, difficulties will less likely become problems and students know who to address with their problems.
2) Possibility for mentor support for all students
AKKUraatd thinks that students should be able to address an accessible confidential advisor who can support them with their studies, their life as a student, and other study-related issues. Currently, most study programmes only offer such a mentor during the first year. However, AKKUraatd believes that mentors should not only be made available to first-year students, but also to students in later phases of their study. That is why AKKUraatd advocates for installing mentors who are (financially) supported, prepared, and educated to ensure that they can concern themselves with these students during their entire study programme. From the second year onwards, students may (optionally) be appointed such a mentor. This means that students themselves can indicate whether they desire such a mentor. Next to that, AKKUraatd thinks it is crucial that the university takes on an active role in promoting the possibility of this type of guidance. Given the potential shortage of teacher mentors, AKKUraatd proposes to install student employees as student mentors.
3) Improved accessibility of student psychologists
AKKUraatd believes that student psychologists should be available and accessible to all students. Several issues currently complicate the accessibility of student psychologists, which is undesirable. Firstly, the waiting period to make an appointment is too high, as this is currently four to five weeks. Next to that, it should not be the case that students need to pay money for a first appointment, which was the case before the Covid-19 crisis struck. The university should offer psychological support to help students. The fact that there is both a registration fee as well as long waiting periods causes the threshold to visit a student psychologist to be too high. It is crucial that this threshold is lowered, so that every student receives the timely and professional help they need.
4) Accessible guidance
For students who may need student support, approaching such support is often a big step. To reduce this, AKKUraatd argues in favour of installing the possibility to directly contact someone who can answer your questions regarding well-being. For students with such questions, we want to develop a roadmap. Moreover, an insightful overview of the various possibilities for student support offered by the university should be provided to students with a functional disability, caregivers, pregnant students, and other students who require more support, for instance by means of a user-friendly website. The information for international students regarding studying at Radboud University and matters they should arrange up front should also be put in order.
- Affordable (on-campus) housingThere are not enough student rooms for students in Nijmegen. For many students, it is therefore difficult to find a room. Moreover, their rents are often too high. The university has a large part to play in recruiting students, but does not do enough to ensure that there is enough affordable housing for the amount of students they aim to attract. That is why AKKUraatd thinks more work should be done to build new, affordable, on-campus dormitories. Ideal destinations for such dormitories would be buildings which will be renovated or demolished in the future, such as the Erasmus and Spinoza Building. This way, the university can contribute to solving the shortage of housing.
Next to that, new students often receive information about finding a room, but the university does not tell them much about the rights they have as a tenant. As a result, students often have to pay more than is legally allowed, or they end up in conflict with their landlord. AKKUraatd thinks that students should actively be informed about their rights as tenants, so that students are in a strong position when a landlord does not abide by the rules.
- Flexible studying for all studentsAKKUraatd thinks that studying should be accessible to everyone. This includes students who have certain obligations or extracurricular activities such as being a caregiver, exercising top-class sport, or being a board member, as studying should be made possible for them as well. This is attainable via two ways:
1) Pay per study credit
As of 2017, a national pilot has been put in place which allows students to pay tuition based on the numberof courses they intend on taking that year. This pilot has received positive evaluations, which has caused the decision to expand on this pilot. Provided that Radboud University is currently not on board with this pilot, AKKUraatd thinks the university should join the new pilot, considering the positive results. This pilot of paying per study credit will allow students’ study costs to be in the right proportion to the amount of study credits of the course students enroll in, with a maximum of the legal tuition fees. Naturally, we think that students who take part in this pilot retain their status as full-time students.
2) Adapted studying
Adapted studying is currently possible for a select group of students, such as students who are caregivers, board members, or those who follow multiple bachelor’s or master’s programmes. Via this arrangement, students are granted the opportunity to formulate a personal curriculum. These students are also less bound to obligatory attendance and deadlines.
At this moment, students are still dependent on teachers’ willingness, whilst teachers are often not informed of the regulations regarding adapted studying. That is why AKKUraatd advocates in favour of establishing formal standards regarding the rights associated with adapted studying, for instance via securing the annotation ‘Adapted Studying’ in Osiris. This way, the use of adapted studying will actually have added value to this group of students.
AKKUraatd also believes that the group of students who can apply for adapted studying should be extended. Consider, for instance, students who have extra study-related activities such as internships, administration tasks, and student representation tasks. The last group is currently only considered for adapted studying when their function is awarded six months of compensation. Whilst student life in Nijmegen is largely created by the active student, fulfilling such a function at Radboud University is currently less attractive. To stimulate that students develop themselves outside their studies yet also continue their studies as best as possible, AKKUraatd wants the option for adapted studying to be accessible to more students.
- Improve guidance of international studentsDespite the fact that we strive for more inclusivity and welcome international students with open arms here at Radboud University, the information for these students is not always as well organised. International students are often sent from pillar to post when they have non-study-related questions. This is the case with practical affairs such as surcharges, insurance, and finances, for instance. International students are now even being referred to study associations. The concept of studying in the Netherlands includes much more than just study-related affairs and therefore does not end with the study programme.
First of all, AKKUraatd argues in favour of mapping out which practical affairs international students generally need help with. This information can be made available to them in the form of a handout, course, or video. This is currently already the case in the Orientation Week for international students, as they receive a guide. Despite this, not all international students participate in this orientation and may therefore miss out on this information. AKKUraatd thinks that this information or guide should be sent to all international students at a later moment.
AKKUraatd also believes that it should be made clear who international students can address with questions. The information regarding study-related affairs and practical matters outside of studying is often available, but it is distributed amongst many different people and departments such as the Student Information Point (STIP), International Office, and study advisors. A solution would be to install one general information point which can refer international students to the correct person or department.
- Suitable compensation for active studentsStudents should be able to develop themselves to their hearts’ content during their studies. According to AKKUraatd, this type of development does not cease to exist beyond lectures and exams. Being a student representative or board member are useful experiences for students’ personal development and future career path. Nowadays, students are increasingly expected to develop themselves outside of their studies, for instance via a function as a member of a participational body or board member.
Due to the current loan system, there is even more pressure on students to graduate within the time set for each programme. Moreover, a lot of students refrain from developing themselves outside their studies. This is not only a limitation for students, but also makes it difficult for associations to find successors. AKKUraatd thinks it is crucial that students are granted the opportunity to develop themselves outside their studies. Therefore we advocate for suitable compensation for these active students in the form of higher grants for students who are a member of a participational body or a board member.
- Better personalised guidance for first-year students
The transition from secondary education to university education is especially large for first-generation students and internationals, as most of them are looking for a room, or have to find their way around on campus and within their studies. AKKUraatd intends to make this transition easier by introducing the following changes:1) Student mentors
Each faculty should introduce a student mentor system that allows first-year students to ask questions about all sorts of study-related affairs. This can be done via an online platform, although a physical form may also be introduced in which first-year students are paired with semester mentors. These mentors are either their Orientation Week-parents, or older students who have applied for a mentorship to help first-years along for at least one semester. After the first semester, first-year students are given the opportunity to remain in contact with their mentors. This way, first-year students are easily introduced to student life, which may also positively affect their study results.
2) Improved flow of information
AKKUraatd believes that the university should work in an improved flow of information for new students. Examples are (online) information evenings on, for instance, applying for a loan, a public transportation card, living on your own, student life, studying, and the campus. An accessible landing page for new students would also help them to easily locate this sort of information.
- Strengthen the cooperation between study programmes and associations
A lot of student board members feel like study programme administrators do not see what associations actually mean to students. (Study) associations contribute greatly to student well-being and students’ personal development. Cooperation between associations and study programmes can bring about ample benefits, for instance when considering activities and student guidance. Students can help one another as so-called ‘experience experts’ by being a buddy or tutor on a variety of affairs. AKKUraatd is happy to see these initiatives and thinks study associations should be supported in this. One can also find cooperation in the area of hosting lectures or career activities. (Study) associations should be given the opportunity to meet periodically with the study programme. This way, the cooperation between the associations and the study programmes is strengthened and creating new ideas becomes easier. The responsibility for this lies partly with the association in question, but cooperation from the study programme is also necessary. By drawing up central guidelines for the use of cooperation between associations and study programmes, this cooperation will be created and maintained more easily.
For the organisation of good education, strong student representation is of the utmost importance. Especially at universities where students and employees make improvements together, it is important that consultations run smoothly. AKKUraatd dedicates itself to the structural improvement of the student representation climate. Our focus is on programme-specific, faculty-wide and university-wide student representation.
- Strengthen the position of Programme Committees
AKKUraatd argues in favour of Programme Committees which receive proper training and in which students have a clear and prominent role. For this, we propose three improvements:1) Voting rights for the EER
Now that the special status of our university is under discussion, it is time to reconsider special regulations regarding our participational bodies. AKKUraatd thinks that Programme Committees should have voting rights on the education and examination regulations (EER). The Programme Committee is the participational body which is most directly involved in the study programme itself and therefore knows best what is going on. This would also be in line with national regulations and other universities’ policy in the Netherlands. The Faculty Student Council (FSC), however, should still have the right to vote on the entirety of the EER, provided that this document influences the study programme’s quality.
2) Improved training
Several FSCs and Programme Committees (PCs) currently lack the readiness and also skills. This causes them to not be able to accomplish their tasks. The training day(s) which are hosted by the university are often not sufficient enough and cause a lack of clarity concerning the rights and responsibilities of participational bodies. AKKUraatd argues in favour of taking a closer look at these training day(s) as well as the functioning of FSCs and PCs to check whether the training actually meets the requirements and reality of being in a participational body. The training day(s) should be evaluated to ensure that obsolete topics that may not apply any long can be updated. Only this way we can strengthen the position of these participational bodies.
3) Room for innovation in the Programme Committee
Strong student representation is of the essence to keep the university going. However, participational bodies are currently set to deteriorate as a consequence of an imbalance of power. The current policy is that students are appointed yearly as members of a Programme Committee, whilst teachers receive a two-year appointment. In theory, the chair of any Programme Committee should be re-elected each year. Unfortunately, we notice that these terms are often being exceeded. Take for instance teachers who take part in a Programme Committee for years, or chairs who invariably fulfill the same post without being re-elected. Next to that, it is not always self-evident at all faculties that student-members of the Programme Committee can be elected as chair. When taken together, this makes it difficult to take a new perspective on policy documents in the Programme Committee. Moreover, this may suppress future innovation.
A solution would be to ensure that teachers, like students, have to be re-elected. This will safeguard the democratisation of the Programme Committee. Next to that, it should be made possible for student members to become the chair of the Programme Committee at all faculties.
- Digitalise course evaluations for all faculties
At several faculties, many course evaluations are currently being administered on paper at the end of physical exams. These course evaluations are often not filled out in a constructive manner, as students are either tired or frustrated and want to go home after an exam. That is why AKKUraatd advocates in favour of digitalising all course evaluations, so that students can fill them out in their own time and therefore provide constructive and structured feedback on the course and the teacher. Both parties will experience the benefit of this improvement, as the student can expound one’s views in a calm manner without having to physically write a lot, and the feedback can also be processed seriously. For teachers, then, it is preferable to receive normal and constructive feedback on their course. Lastly, it also saves a lot of paper.
- Observance of the WHW
The Higher Education and Research Act (Dutch: WHW) describes which education-related rules the university should abide by. As the Radboud University, despite losing the predicate ‘catholic’, is still a ‘special’ university, our university can sometimes make exceptions to this law. However, AKKUraatd argues in favour of observing the WHW more strictly in certain areas to guarantee the best of both worlds:
1) 50/50 voting ratio in Faculty Joint Assemblies (FGV’s)
Currently, we are the only university that has a voting ratio of 60% for employees and 40% for students on the faculty level. By law, this voting ratio is 50% for employees and 50% students, however. This rule stems from times in which employees were more involved in religion than students and therefore had more voting rights. AKKUraatd thinks this rule is out of date, especially now that the university’s catholic predicate has been terminated. We therefore argue in favour of establishing this ratio back to the national level: 50/50.
2) Funding study materials
It has been determined by law (section 7.50, paragraph one in the Dutch WHW) that no extra costs ought to be charged for compulsory study materials. Unfortunately, we still see a lot of study programmes charging extra costs for study materials, for instance for microscopes. AKKUraatd wants to see to it that this law is observed more strictly. Next to that, we do not wish for these unnecessary costs to be charged on students.
- Pilot: A student assessor in the Executive Board
Some universities in the Netherlands, like the UvA and RUG, already have a student assessor in the Executive Board (Dutch: CvB) of their universities. Having a student assessor in the highest body of administration at a university may bring about significant benefits. A student assessor can, for instance, touch on topics in the interest of students in meetings with the Executive Board. A student assessor can also function as a so-called ‘linking-pin’ between the Executive Board and the various participational bodies, and eventually also for students. AKKUraatd thinks that having a student assessor in the Executive Board may be beneficial for all parties involved, provided that the function is well-embedded. That is why we want to consider installing a pilot with a student assessor in the Executive Board. To make this pilot successful, it is crucial that participational bodies are extensively consulted and also have a major vote in the selection of the student assessor.
- Improved cooperation between participational bodies and the university's communication department It is essential that participational bodies are sufficiently visible, so that all students can feel connected with the participational bodies and associated tasks. This is partly up to the participational bodies themselves, but AKKUraatd believes that the university could also contribute to this. The cooperation with the university’s communication department is not always optimal. There is a lot of knowledge, however, both on behalf of the employees at the communication department as well as the students. Currently, the problem is bringing these parties together. According to AKKUraatd, more mutual solidarity between the communication department’s professionals and the members of the various participational bodies will be beneficial for all parties involved. This way, all parties can be consulted on what is communicated when. AKKUraatd thinks it can be informative when students receive training from the university’s communication department which explains the university’s communication strategy and how it is processed into content. During this training, it is crucial that there is attention for participational bodies and how to reach their backing. This way, contact points for sharing knowledge and information are created both within the university’s communication department as well as the participational bodies.
Participational bodies, especially Programme Committees and Faculty Student Councils, are currently not very visible to students. Students often do not know which participational body is in charge of what. More focus should be placed on what the respective body’s tasks are and how this can be made visible to students. AKKUraatd therefore argues in favour of clearly delineating the university’s participational structure. A clear flowchart which focuses on the question “Who should I address with which problem?” can provide an answer on the question what participational bodies can mean for students.