Over the past year, work has been under way on the implementation of the ten-point plan, which aims to create greater transparency and democratisation and to improve the quality of teaching and research. A number of recent results are set out below.
Point 1: Investing in and strengthening participation in decision-making
- The procedure for appointing members of the Executive Board has changed significantly from previous years for the functions of Rector Magnificus and President of the Executive Board: representative advisory bodies have the right to approve the profiles concerned, have four representatives on the Appointments Committees (two students and two staff members from UvA/AUAS) and have the right to be consulted on appointments. Meetings are then held with the representative advisory bodies and the deans to gauge the level of support for such appointments.
- The members of the Central Works Council (COR) have been granted more resources than previously.
- The new statutory right of approval over the main points of the budget has been widely implemented, amongst others by consulting over the content of the framework letter.
- The procedure for consulting with the representative advisory bodies has been adapted. The representative advisory bodies are involved in the process at an early stage in cases which are ultimately submitted to them for advice or approval.
Point 2: A focus on further democratisation, amongst others through a Democratisation & Decentralisation committee
- A new approach to policy preparation has been introduced with green papers which the academic community is invited to respond to before formal decision-making begins within the Board, the Central Executive Council (CBO) and the representative advisory bodies.
- A Democratisation & Decentralisation committee has been set up following a proposal from action groups and representative advisory bodies.
- A Diversity subcommittee with a budget of €200,000 was set up in February to do research into diversity and inclusion within the UvA.
Point 3: Decentralisation of teaching and research
- Based on the white paper 'Dare to Share', an action plan which aims to create communities of lecturers who share information with each other around broad policy issues relating to education is currently being rolled out.
- Based on the white paper 'Blend IT and Share IT', policy plans are being drawn up within the faculties to put the educational reforms into practice, amongst others through the use of open educational resources.
- The function of Examinations Boards and Boards of Studies is being investigated in more depth in the light of the Inspection Reports from 2015.
Point 4: Full financial transparency
- The website, budget and framework letter now include detailed notes which allow them to be understood by outsiders. Financial statistics have also been added to the public facts & figures on the website.
- The transparency of the financial decision-making process has been increased by inviting the academic community to make suggestions regarding the framework letter and budget before they are approved.
- An action plan has been drawn up to trigger a broad debate around the distribution model (allocation model). The outcome of this debate may result in changes to the allocation model from the 2018 budget onwards.
- The action groups and representative advisory bodies have set up a Finance and Accommodation Research Committee.
Point 5: Present the decision to build a new University Library to the academic community for approval
- In order to enable an informed debate around this issue, a number of alternative scenarios are currently being developed alongside the existing model to the same level of detail as the current plan for the University Library (UB). These scenarios involve incorporating the UB into the Oudemanhuispoort or keeping the UB in its existing location. The academic community will be consulted over the various alternatives.
Point 6: Prioritising creativity and innovation in teaching and research
- In the autumn of 2015, the Educational Reform and blended learning task force and the Knowledge sharing in education task force issued recommendations in the form of green papers (in addition to the framework letter and draft budget) (see also Point 3). The academic community was given several weeks to submit comments on these recommendations. The task forces then responded to these comments, reviewed their recommendations and drew up a plan for their implementation. The Board has recently given its opinion on this.
- At the request of the Board, the University Committee on Education has set up a task force which will evaluate the measures to improve academic success introduced following a recommendation from the task force of the same name in 2009. The objectives of the programme have been achieved and will be reported in the 2015 annual report to the Higher Education and Research Review Committee. This will pave the way for an ongoing focus on educational reform, academic development and research-intensive teaching.
Point 7: Strengthening the link between teaching and research and raising the valuation of teaching
- The Board has devoted a great deal of time to reviewing the HR policy in close consultation with the deans and the representative advisory bodies. This has resulted in an HR agenda which specifies the priorities and which has been approved by the Central Works Council (COR). The key priorities are: an appropriate balance between permanent and temporary staff members; strategic staff planning in connection with work pressure issues; further development of the (academic) career development policy; improvement of the quality of annual consultations; and continued leadership development.
- The policy must also reinforce the link between teaching and research. This will be achieved by reviewing the vision on teaching and learning (onderwijsvisie) and by establishing a University Committee on Education (UCO) task force which will determine how research-intensive teaching can be translated into the learning outcomes and assessment frameworks for degree programmes.
Point 8: Restricting the number of temporary employment contracts
- The Board has appointed a confidential adviser on individual legal status (VIR) to talk to staff members who believe that they have not been dealt with in accordance with the letter and spirit of the law and the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU). The VIR has made binding judgements in a number of HR cases and general recommendations on policy.
- Also, in December last year, an independent research report on temporary contracts was published, to which the representative advisory bodies’ Temporary Personnel Committee has responded.
- As stated in point 7, the ratio between permanent and temporary staff members is a key feature of the HR Agenda.
Point 9: Making the Maagdenhuis is available for debates
- The hall of the Maagdenhuis is available for debates relating to the reform process in the broadest sense of the word. A number of different debates are organised on a monthly basis, some of them on current government policy, others involving an external guest speaker (examples include: 'Knowledge is market'; 'University as a driver of empowerment': and 'Flexible learning' Flexstuderen attended by MP Mohammed Mohandis). Use of the Maagdenhuis hall is subject to a number of general requirements.
Point 10: Reminding the government of its responsibilities
- In the autumn of 2015, the Board helped draw up a motion which is designed to link funding for education more closely with actual teaching. Once the motion had been adopted, the Board entered into negotiations with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and MPs Duisenberg and Mohandis to put it into practice through a pilot project involving so-called Flexible learning.
- Together with vice-rector Du Perron, members of the Board also talked to the spokespersons for education of a number of political parties. This resulted in a number of follow-up contacts.