CIT staff feels pressured to go to work despite Covid

CIT staff feels pressured to go to work

The board of directors is telling employees to work from home as much as possible. But what if your department managers tell everyone they need them to come in to work one or two days a week?
23 September om 12:06 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 23 September 2020
om 12:06 uur.
September 23 at 12:06 PM.
Last modified on September 23, 2020
at 12:06 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

23 September om 12:06 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 23 September 2020
om 12:06 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

September 23 at 12:06 PM.
Last modified on September 23, 2020
at 12:06 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

This has concerned people at the CIT, the UG’s IT centre, since the start of the academic year. In late August, employees received an email containing instructions for the new year. It explained, among other things, what ‘working from home as much as possible’ meant at the CIT.

‘Combined with the general advice to work from home, depending on your tasks, you will have to work in the office two days a week. […] In any case, you will meet with your team or project team at least once a week to discuss work and the approach for starting and executing (new) projects’, the email reads. Doesn’t this go against the policy that says people should work from home as much as possible?

Teamwork

‘Teams should be able to get together to figure out issues’, says CIT director Ronals Stolk. ‘We’re asking our staff to come to the office. We’re not demanding it.’ This is in line with the UG’s principle; getting together is important and should be facilitated.

‘It’s important to meet up’, says UG spokesperson Jorien Bakker. ‘It’s a good thing if we can help make that happen again. Departments should be able to get together, as long as they obey the corona rules. But it’s certainly not mandatory.’

Nevertheless, some CIT employees felt the email was rather forceful. Stolk emphasises that this was not the intention. ‘But getting together in person might be even more important than before the corona crisis, since the pressure on our department has only increased since education has moved online.’

Solving problems

‘We provide a vital piece of infrastructure to the university’, says Stolk. ‘When something goes wrong during an online test or class, we have to solve it.’ When a lot of issues come in at once, it’s easier to solve them when you have a team that’s physically together. ‘Obviously, everyone can execute the solutions at home. In reality, that means that you’d work from home three to four days a week.’

CIT management has created a document that further explains the guidelines that apply to the department. ‘We discussed it informally with the employee council, but we’ve now submitted a written version for their formal approval. I expect they’ll come up with some additions. We’ll send the document to all our staff when it’s done.’

KVI-CART reorganisation finally a done deal

KVI-CART reorganisation finally a done deal

This week, research centre KVI-CART was finally split up and redistributed to the UMCG and the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE). However, there are still some issues to be worked out at either new location.
2 September om 16:53 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 16:53 uur.
September 2 at 16:53 PM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 16:53 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

2 September om 16:53 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 16:53 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

September 2 at 16:53 PM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 16:53 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

‘There’s still a lot of confusion about resources and all that’, says Nasser Kalantar-Nayestanaki. The professor of nuclear physics is leaving the research centre for FSE. ‘It’s not necessarily bad or good, just confusing. We’ll be discussing and working out the details over the next few months.’

The reorganisation took a lot of work. The board of directors kept pointing out that the research centre kept losing money, but staff at KVI-CART insisted their place of employment was doing fine. The board promised to go back on earlier agreements to allow the KVI-CART another chance to prove itself. Because of this, the university council refused to approve of the plans.

Only when the board of directors assured that no one would be forced to leave their position and that the UMCG would take over particle accelerator AGOR could the plan continue. FSE promised to employ the remaining staff.

Now, eighteen months later, peace and quiet have returned. 

Confusion

‘The confusion that comes with a reorganisation is really difficult for the people involved’, says Kalantar-Nayestanaki. ‘Right now, not everyone at FSE is able to continue their research. As far as I’m concerned, the reorganisation isn’t finished until everyone has the resources, time, and money to do so.’

In spite of these ‘minor’ details, he’s not unhappy. ‘We said this needs to be solved quickly, because we want to continue our research. It’s true that the talks about that are still ongoing. But as long as people are willing to take care of everything, it will be all right.’

Different organisations

The reason the reorganisation took so long and inconvenienced the staff so much is partially due to the switch to the UMCG. ‘The UMCG is a different organisation than the RUG’, says professor Sytze Brandenburg, who was closely involved in the reorganisation. ‘That means we ran into things that worked differently to what we were used to.’

He praises the UMCG colleagues who took him and his people under their wings. ‘They’re working really hard to help us understand how everything works and to solve all our little teething issues.’

Brandenburg says the research projects that have been transferred to the UMCG will not be delayed. ‘Almost all the projects had been set up in collaboration with the UMCG, so they’re simply being continued. Most of the issues are of a practical nature, like people struggling with IT.’

Synergy

There are still a few kinks to be worked out at the UMCG, but above all, people are positive about the change. ‘There is clearly a lot of synergy, which benefits both research and research financing.’ 

Nevertheless, he has to admit that he ‘may have been a bit naive at the start of this change. Everything we had to take care of, everything we had to arrange and shut down. It was a lot more complicated than I thought.’

He acknowledges that the drawn-out nature of the change caused staff to feel nervous. ‘I think the UG and UMCG boards should have a good talk about that. Among themselves and with each other, to figure out if there’s a way to speed up processes like these. There’s a lot more I could say about that, but for now we just want to move on.’

Half a billion in investments for Campus Groningen

Half a billion in investments for Campus Groningen

A half-billion investment plan is supposed to make Campus Groningen into what might just be the biggest academic campus in the Netherlands over the next five years.

2 September om 10:48 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 16:04 uur.
September 2 at 10:48 AM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 16:04 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

2 September om 10:48 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 16:04 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

September 2 at 10:48 AM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 16:04 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

The investment plan is called the Campus Community Fund and was presented at the Forum Groningen. There, investment agency NOM and the Rabobank signed the agreement, making them responsible for collecting a large part of the necessary investments. 

The plan budgets 500 million for various investments: 250 million for real estate and infrastructure, 75 million for physical, multifunctional facilities and services, and 175 million for business operations like start-up and scale-up capital. 

Most of the money will have to come from private investments, with the rest of the contributions made taken from public funds.

Ecosystem 

The idea behind the investments is to transform Campus Groningen, which consists of the Zernike campus, the Healthy Ageing Campus, as well as the current knowledge institutes and on-campus corporations, into an even larger ‘ecosystem’, expanding the five pillars the Groningen region is working with. Initiatives that want to make use of the fund have to conform to any of the following themes: agri-food, energy, healthy, chemistry, or digital economy.

A total of 365 million euros has been invested in the Campus Groningen over the past few years. Since its inception six years ago, the Groningen campus has become not just the fastest growing, but also the second largest knowledge campus in the Netherlands. Only the Eindhoven campus has it beat. 

Relationship

Campus Groningen is also hoping to facilitate and improve the relationship between the UG and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the business community. In addition to ‘marketing knowledge’ and ‘transforming knowledge into product innovation’, the investment will also create job opportunities in the region. 

The campus currently provides jobs to approximately 22,000 people across more than two hundred companies and institutes. Over the next five years, the investments will add at least another 750 jobs.

UB reopens for nights and weekends

Reservations are mandatory

UB reopens for nights and weekends

From September 1, the UB will be open on nights and weekends. Reservations are mandatory, and people can reserve four time slots a week.

2 September om 9:59 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 11:10 uur.
September 2 at 9:59 AM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 11:10 AM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

2 September om 9:59 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 11:10 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

September 2 at 9:59 AM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 11:10 AM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

A total of four hundred out of 2,200 desks will be available. ‘That’s all we could do to ensure people can keep their distance’, says UB spokesperson Frank den Hollander. ‘By reopening at night and on weekends, we hope to give more students the opportunity to come to the UB.’

Time slot

Anyone in need of a desk can reserve a time slot. The UB will be open from Monday to Sunday, and there are three available time slots a day: from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

‘We have to clean everything in between the time slots. Students who reserve two consecutive time slots can’t stay at their desk’, says Den Hollander. You automatically get a break from studying if you reserve two time slots. 

Students can reserve a maximum of four time slots. This is to allow as many students as possible to make use of the UB. The library will only be available for UG students. ‘Hanze students used to be welcome, but we simply don’t have the room for them.’

Coffee and bathrooms

There is more good news: the library’s coffee rooms will also reopen. Students can’t have their breaks in those rooms, but they can take their coffee back to their desks. ‘As long as they clean up after themselves’, says Den Hollander.

The bathrooms will be available as well. ‘The hallways leading up to them are narrow, so we couldn’t turn them into one-way hallways. We’re asking people to look out for each other.’

Opening academic year is a day for protests nowadays

Opening academic year is a day for protests nowadays

The opening of the academic year is often accompanied by protests nowadays. UG staff and students demonstrated against the high workload and crippling student debts on Monday.
31 August om 20:38 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 11:11 uur.
August 31 at 20:38 PM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 11:11 AM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

31 August om 20:38 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 September 2020
om 11:11 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

August 31 at 20:38 PM.
Last modified on September 2, 2020
at 11:11 AM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

‘All these temporary contracts are forcing young scientists to live like nomads’, says professor Nasser Kalantar-Nayestanaki. At noon exactly on Monday, he is posted in front of the Academy building. Dressed in a red shirt, he and dozens of his colleagues are preparing for a bike tour past the university faculties. 

They’ve named it the ‘Tour of Academics’, and it symbolises the long road that young scientists are forced to travel. Travelling from city to city and from campus to campus where all they get are temporary positions, they’re looking for that place that will finally allow them to stay. ‘Even the current budget allows the university to offer people more, so why aren’t we doing that?’ says Kalantar-Nayestanaki.

Small group of people

The Groningen scientists return to the Broerplein an hour later, coinciding with the arrival of the board of directors who are opening the academic year. The coronavirus means they’re not part of a procession leading to the Martini church. Instead, the opening is taking place at the Academy building with only a small group of people present. The whole thing is being live-streamed to the rest of the academic community. 

Kalantar-Nayestanaki sees an opportunity and approaches board president Jouke de Vries, asking him politely yet sharply to listen to what WOinActie and the AOb and FNV unions have to say. Please give young scientists permanent contracts; the entire university stands to benefit.

Worried about well-being

While the board of directors, the supervisory board, the university council members and honorary guest minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag (D66) privately prepare for the official opening, members of student party DAG are worried about the well-being of university employees.

They’ve hung a banner in front of the Academy building: 10,000 hours of unpaid work every day at the university of Groningen. According to the party’s recent calculations, for which they used national numbers collected by WOinActie, Groningen university staff collectively work 10,000 hours of unpaid overtime a day. ‘I don’t understand how the board of directors can calmly enjoy the opening of the year while this is going on’, says party leader Ivi Kussi.

Debt

Elsewhere in town, in front of the DUO main offices, students are protesting against other things: the increase in student debt since the basic grant was abolished in 2015. The National Student Union (LSVb) and FNV Young & United have unofficially renamed the building the ‘Ministry of Debt’.

In the meantime, rector Cisca Wijmenga addresses the academic community online. She acknowledges the work everyone has done so far and says that now more than ever, it’s important to work together. As an African saying goes, she says: you’ll be faster alone, but you’ll go farther together.

UB to reopen for studying June 29

Number of desks will be gradually increased

UB to reopen for studying this Monday

The city centre UB will open its doors to students this Monday. Students will be able to reserve a study spot for two timeslots a week.
27 June om 8:39 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 29 June 2020
om 15:55 uur.
June 27 at 8:39 AM.
Last modified on June 29, 2020
at 15:55 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

27 June om 8:39 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 29 June 2020
om 15:55 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 27 at 8:39 AM.
Last modified on June 29, 2020
at 15:55 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

Only the first floor will be available during the first week of the reopening. There are two time slots per day available: from 8.30 to 12.30 and from 1.30 to 5.30. Anyone who wants to study at the UB will have to make a reservation.

If the first few days are a success, the library will make more desks available on July 1 and open up the second floor as well. If that all works out, they’ll open up the third floor on July 6.

Rules

There are a few rules students have to follow in order to study at the UB. On top of the reservations, everyone has to disinfect their hands and report to the front desk for a health check.

Anyone who hasn’t been suffering from any symptoms in the recent past can make their way to their reserved desk along a set route. Library employees will call for people to leave at the end of each time slot.

The coffee rooms will remain closed for the time being, but students are free to bring water.

Students may travel during peak hours in September

Students may travel during peak hours in September

Starting September 1, students will once again be allowed to travel by public transport during peak hours, prime minister Mark Rutte announced on Wednesday.
26 June om 14:51 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 29 June 2020
om 14:52 uur.
June 26 at 14:51 PM.
Last modified on June 29, 2020
at 14:52 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

26 June om 14:51 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 29 June 2020
om 14:52 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 26 at 14:51 PM.
Last modified on June 29, 2020
at 14:52 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

With this move, the government responds to the complaint issued by the rectors of Dutch universities. Universities will also be allowed to teach on-site classes starting September 1, as long as everyone keeps their distance from each other.

Relaxations

The relaxations announced on June 15 allowed research universities and universities of applied sciences to teach on-site labs and classes if teaching them online was prohibitive. The only condition was that these classes had to be scheduled between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. or after 8 p.m.

This was to make sure students only used public transport outside peak hours. Since the rules for public transport are being relaxed and more seats will be available after July 1, there will be more room for students.

On-site education

While the new rules provide the university the opportunity for more on-site education, the UG will have to keep social distancing rules in mind. That means that only a small group of students will be able to attend on-site classes in the new year.

How the new rules will affect the UG remains to be seen. So far, the board of directors is going for a hybrid form of education, where online classes will be incorporated.

Students want ACLO to refund them

Students want ACLO to refund them

A group of students has asked the ACLO to refund them the money the paid for the Fitness Card. Over the summer, the sports centre will decide whether a refund is justified.
24 June om 10:10 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 June 2020
om 17:18 uur.
June 24 at 10:10 AM.
Last modified on June 24, 2020
at 17:18 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

24 June om 10:10 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 24 June 2020
om 17:18 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 24 at 10:10 AM.
Last modified on June 24, 2020
at 17:18 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

‘It’s not about the basic ACLO subscription, but rather the extra rate I paid to attend the gym’, says psychology student Daniel Anadria (23). He created a petition for the refund on Tuesday, and so far, it’s been signed by twenty-two people.

Students who want to work out in the fitness centre have to pay for a Fitness Card on top of their regular ACLO membership. ‘But the corona crisis has prevented me from using the gym’, says Anadria.

Alternatives

He understands that the ACLO had been doing everything it can to set up alternatives during corona, but he has not seen any alternatives to the gym. He’s also upset that the sports centre has barely responded to his complaints, if at all.

‘All they told me was that the ACLO doesn’t do refunds and that they provide alternative online classes. I specifically joined to go to the gym, so a class doesn’t work for me.’

Anadria paid fifty euros for an ACLO pass and another forty to make use of the gym for a semester. ‘It may not sound like much, but I don’t have any disposable income. I have four different jobs and as an international student, I don’t get any financing’, he says.

Evaluation

Hendrike Schut, director at the sports centre, says she understands Anadria’s situation. ‘When the measures went into effect, we had no idea how long they would last or what their effects would be. We’ve emailed our members to let them know we’ll be evaluating the situation over the summer.’

They’ll be looking at their legal recourse and what they feel is reasonable regarding refunds. ‘Someone using the gym is in another boat than someone who also takes group classes’, says Schut.

She couldn’t say whether this means that Anadria and others will get a refund for their Fitness Card.

UG voting system hacked by journalists

Election results stand

UG voting system hacked by journalists

Voting system WebElect, which UG student used last week to vote in the university council elections, was hacked by journalists during those elections.
18 June om 18:41 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 18 June 2020
om 18:43 uur.
June 18 at 18:41 PM.
Last modified on June 18, 2020
at 18:43 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

18 June om 18:41 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 18 June 2020
om 18:43 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 18 at 18:41 PM.
Last modified on June 18, 2020
at 18:43 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

Nevertheless, the election results, which were announced on Monday, will stand. ‘There were no obvious abnormalities in the results’, says UG spokesperson Jorien Bakker.

Last week, student party De Vrije Student sounded the alarm in the UKrant, saying the voting system was sensitive to fraud. The link that took students to their personal voting page contained both their username and their password, which in theory allowed hackers to write a program that would enable them to find and use everyone’s accounts.

University magazine Folia with the University of Amsterdam, which also held elections last week, decided to test it out and wrote such a program. They not only gained access to 49 UvA accounts, but a further 31 UG voting accounts. They did this during election week, which means that they could have voted in students’ name. Fortunately, they didn’t.

Election results

A UG spokesperson told UKrant last week that the university was aware the system was sensitive to fraud, but that the UG wasn’t worried that it would lead to irregularities or actual voting fraud. 

According to Bakker, the UG still feels the same way. ‘We have no reason to doubt the election results that were presented on Monday; it will stand’, she writes in a response to the security leak. The WebElect results have been checked by the UG’s Central Electoral Committee. The university says this check is sufficient. 

Neither the number of cast votes nor the manner in which people voted are reason to doubt the results, the UG says. ‘We’re obviously taking it very seriously and we’ll be discussing it in our evaluation of the university council elections’, says Bakker. 

Fifteen million attempts

The program Folia used made fifteen million login attempts in twenty minutes, the university magazine says. WebElect did not realise this was happening and did nothing to intervene. 

An UvA spokesperson told Folia on Wednesday morning that the university would start an immediate investigation into the security leak. They’re asking WebElect to explain, among other things. Only after the investigation is concluded can the university say with any certainty whether there’ll be any consequences for the Amsterdam elections. 

WebElect has told Folia they’ll accelerate a planned security update.

UG goes down 14 places in QS Rankings, comes in at 128

UG goes down 14 places in QS Rankings, comes in at 128

The University of Groningen has gone down fourteen places in the new QS World University Rankings and is now in 128th place.
16 June om 13:54 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 16 June 2020
om 13:54 uur.
June 16 at 13:54 PM.
Last modified on June 16, 2020
at 13:54 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

16 June om 13:54 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 16 June 2020
om 13:54 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 16 at 13:54 PM.
Last modified on June 16, 2020
at 13:54 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

This is the lowest position for the UG in the university rankings since 2012. In 2015, they were in 90th place.

The annual list is composed mainly on the basis of data gathered through questionnaires, which determine more than half of the final score. The reputation of the educational institutes, which is also determined through questionnaires, is an important part of the score as well.

Top 100

TU Delft and the University of Amsterdam remain the only two Dutch universities in the top 100 of the QS Rankings. After years of rising, Delft has gone down to 57th place, while the UvA has once again gone up: from 64th to 61st place. Of the other Dutch universities, seven have gone down in the rankings, including the UG. 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is at the top of the list, followed by Harvard and Stanford.

All parties retain their seats on the university council

22.1 percent of students voted

All parties retain their seats on the university council

Nothing will change in the distribution of the student parties’ seats on the university council next year. All parties won the exact same number of seats in the elections that they currently have.

15 June om 19:59 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 16 June 2020
om 19:14 uur.
June 15 at 19:59 PM.
Last modified on June 16, 2020
at 19:14 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

15 June om 19:59 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 16 June 2020
om 19:14 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 15 at 19:59 PM.
Last modified on June 16, 2020
at 19:14 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

Arjen Dijkstra, who heads up the University Museum, announced the results of the university council elections on Monday afternoon. Because of the corona measures, he broadcast the outcome via a livestream on the university’s YouTube channel. 

Lijst Calimero and Studenten Organisatie Groningen retain their five seats. Democratische Academie Groningen and De Vrije Student both retain one seat. 

Turnout

In all, 22.1 percent of the students cast their votes. That’s down from last year, when 24.9 percent of students voted.

Nevertheless, rector Cisca Wijmenga was happy with the voter turnout. ‘This is the first time in almost fifty years that the elections have moved online’, she said in a video message. ‘And still almost a quarter of students made the effort to vote. We’re very happy with that, because it’s extremely important that students actively participate.’

Faculties

Students did not only vote for the university council, but also for their representatives on the faculty councils. Three out of eleven faculties didn’t have elections, because they didn’t have enough candidates. At these faculties, the candidates that were put forward were elected by default.

At the other faculties, voter turnout was the highest at University College Groningen, where 49.8 percent of students voted. At the Faculty of Economics and Business, turnout was the lowest, at 16 percent. 

Voter turnout was up at the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, by 33 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively.  

UB slowly reopens: printers available again

Plans for study spot pilot also underway

UB slowly reopens: printers available again

Students who need to print can once again do so at the UB in the city centre. The library is also starting a pilot project involving study spots for students on July 1.
15 June om 13:27 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 15 June 2020
om 17:02 uur.
June 15 at 13:27 PM.
Last modified on June 15, 2020
at 17:02 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

15 June om 13:27 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 15 June 2020
om 17:02 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 15 at 13:27 PM.
Last modified on June 15, 2020
at 17:02 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

What the pilot for study spots that allow for social distancing will look like and who will participate in it has not yet been determined. ‘We’re still working on the plans’, says UG spokesperson Jorien Bakker. One thing is certain: only a small group of students will be participating at first.

‘If the first phase works out, we’ll consider expanding’, says Bakker, who emphasises the project relies heavily on collaboration with the Safety Region Groningen. ’If they decide we should do things differently, we’ll have to comply.’

If the pilot is successful, a total of 400 to 450 out of the 2,100 UB desks will be available with all the corona measures in place.

Printing

In the meanwhile, students are allowed in the UB again to use the printers. They can do so from Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 12 noon. Students can reserve a time slot on the library’s website.

Once you’re reserved a slot, you need  to bring your own laptop, phone, or tablet. You’ll need it to upload your files to the printer. The UB’s own computers won’t be available, so you can’t just bring a flash drive.

Mónica López López is the Netherlands’ best PhD supervisor

5 questions for Mónica López López, Supervisor of the Year

The PhD Network Netherlands (PNN) awarded UG associate professor of remedial education Mónica López López the national Supervisor of the Year Award for being a versatile and inspiring supervisor. UKrant asked her what her secret is.
10 June om 11:04 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 10 June 2020
om 12:52 uur.
June 10 at 11:04 AM.
Last modified on June 10, 2020
at 12:52 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

10 June om 11:04 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 10 June 2020
om 12:52 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 10 at 11:04 AM.
Last modified on June 10, 2020
at 12:52 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

PNN praises the way you help PhD candidates develop not only their research skills, but also their networking and other relevant skills. How do you help your students achieve this?

‘In my own trajectory as a PhD, I benefited a lot from international networks and connections with great researchers all around the world. These networks helped me establish international collaborations, gain support for my projects, and even find a job in academia. 

Networking during your PhD is very important because, besides all the obvious academic benefits it brings, you can gain a lot of social support to help you navigate the most difficult moments of your PhD. I want my PhD researchers to experience the same support and opportunities I had during my doctoral research. 

I speak openly about networking to my team members and to other PhD researchers that approach me for advice. I share my skills and my experiences, I explain my big failures, I introduce them to the research community, promote their work among my colleagues, and make room for my team members in scientific meetings. 

I encourage my PhDs to organise symposia and take leadership roles in international conferences; and I extend some of the keynote invitations I receive to them, so we can present together. I also encourage them to share their experiences with others and I learn a lot from their own strategies.’

PNN also praises the versatility of your supervision. What is your secret to staying versatile in a demanding academic environment?

‘I think they referred to versatility in the context of playing different roles or caring for different aspects in my students’ lives. And let’s be honest, caring beyond the academic production is really hard. The system is very demanding, as you pointed out. 

Under these stressful conditions, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision: you only see papers to publish and deadlines for their defence. This might prevent us from understanding their whole story, the obstacles holding them back, the personal problems that impact their PhD progress. 

When you understand more about your students’ identity, who they are, what motivates them, what is challenging for them, and what they bring to academia, you can do a better job tailoring your supervision to their unique needs. That always leads to better results in terms of research output.’ 

Mónica López López (in the middle, with glasses) at the Women’s March in Groningen, earlier this year.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from supervising PhD candidates?

‘I think that in the beginning, I was more reserved with my team about my own struggles and failures. And I think that was wrong. It’s important to expose our PhD researchers to our difficulties and our disappointments. 

When they only see you getting grants and celebrating papers and other achievements, they might develop unadjusted expectations of academic life. That can increase their feelings of self-doubt and their imposter syndrome. 

Nowadays, I make sure that they know about my many failures and mistakes as an academic. We talk and laugh about it, we acknowledge the pain this causes, and we motivate each other to continue working.’ 

What is the most important advice you give your PhD candidates?

‘I would say invest time in building meaningful relationships and creating your academic community. Find colleagues that will support you intellectually and emotionally and do the same for them. This has a positive impact on your mental health, but it also lays the foundation to transform our institutions into better places. Practice academic solidarity and do better at understanding the situation of groups that face particular forms of oppression. 

Showing up for your colleagues who are struggling in the academic institutions is important. Ask them about their experiences in a sensitive way, read and educate yourself about issues of social justice and equality. And be ready to step out of your comfort zone and to use your power and privilege to promote structural changes that will make our universities more ethical and inclusive.’

You are a popular speaker at local PhD days. What is the most important development you see in this stage of academic life right now and how should the academic community benefit or learn from it?

‘I’m seeing amazing things happening right now, thanks to different formal and informal organisations of PhDs in this university, trying to positively transform academic life. I also recognise the commitment of many staff members in these endeavours. For instance, I see a lot of good work to raise awareness about mental health issues in academia. It was even the main topic of the PhD Day 2019. 

I see many PhDs raising their voice about systemic issues affecting underrepresented groups in academia. We’re finally talking about institutional sexism, racism, and power dynamics. And we are making some slow progress towards a more LGBTQIA+ affirming university (for instance with the introduction of unisex toilets). 

While crucial, these conversations have been sometimes difficult to have. But I think we are ready now to start walking the walk. I trust that Gerry Wakker will be able to turn these conversations into real actions from the new Diversity and Inclusion Office. I’m very excited about this project.’ 

‘Passport professor’ Kochenov did nothing wrong, but he was negligent

‘Passport professor’ gets a warning

Kochenov did nothing wrong, but he was negligent

Law professor Dimitry Kochenov was not involved in the controversial trade in Maltese passports. But he did fail to report his extracurricular activities to the UG.
9 June om 17:09 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 9 June 2020
om 17:09 uur.
June 9 at 17:09 PM.
Last modified on June 9, 2020
at 17:09 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

9 June om 17:09 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 9 June 2020
om 17:09 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 9 at 17:09 PM.
Last modified on June 9, 2020
at 17:09 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

For that, he’s been given a warning, the UG announced after they published the results of the investigation into Kochenov’s extracurricular activities on Tuesday evening. Kochenov is a professor of constitutional law and citizenship.

According to the investigators, there was a conflict of interest, since Kochenov was ‘using his position at the UG to receive money into his private account from third parties’. Kochenov was paid for undivulged extracurricular activities.

Also known as the ‘passport professor’ for his expertise, Kochenov will be given an official warning for not reporting his extracurricular activities to the UG.

Politically sensitive

According to television programme Nieuwsuur, Kochenov was advising the Maltese government on the sale of Maltese passports. The sale of European passports isn’t illegal, but it is controversial.

After the news report led to parliamentary questions on Kochenov’s extracurricular activities, the UG commissioned an external investigation in 2019.

According to the investigative committee, Kochenov ‘didn’t provide any advice on whether individuals were eligible for a Maltese passport. […] Nevertheless, Mr Kochenov’s activities for the Maltese government did take place in a politically sensitive context between the European Committee, the European Parliament, and several member states, including Malta. The committee feels Mr Kochenov took a risk in doing this.’

Conflict of interest

The committee was also tasked with investigating whether Kochenov’s extracurricular activities were a danger to his academic independence. The committee has concluded that they are not.

However, the committee does say that Kochenov was in the wrong when he failed to divulge some of his extracurricular activities to the law faculty board. While he was open about them, mentioning them on his personal information page on the UG website, the investigators say that someone of ‘his level and position’ is expected to talk to ‘his supervisor and/or faculty board’ himself.

The committee says that among the undivulged activities is the fact that Kochenov chaired the Investment Migration Council, an organisation that promotes the trade in passports and residence permits, as well as most of his work for Malta.

Payments

Kochenov also failed to report some of the income he earned from his activities to the university. Since 2016, Kochenov received more than 36,000 euros in remuneration for services rendered to parties other than the university in a private account. ‘More than 75 percent of this stems from his work for Malta’, the report states.

‘He was offered remuneration and rewards and accepted this. We also conclude that he requested remuneration and rewards.’ The investigative committee says Kochenov’s actions concerning the payments are ‘illegitimate’ and not in line with the rules included in the university’s collective agreement since 2011, nor in line with the code of conduct concerning integrity that the UG created in 2017.

Rash

Kochenov isn’t the only one who acted rashly, says the investigative committee. Kochenov’s immediate supervisor was aware of his work outside the university, but felt it didn’t need to be reported as extracurricular activities.

The committee explains this by saying the procedures concerning permission for extracurricular activities don’t meet the standards of regulation at universities. The committee says that both the faculty board and Kochenov’s supervisor have failed in executing the correct procedures.

The UG board of directors has said that everyone directly involved in the matter has received a warning and that the ‘internal information services and the procedures concerning the need to ask for permission for extracurricular activities and extracurricular incomes’ will be improved.

Reimbursement

The schools inspectorate and education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven don’t entirely agree with the steps the UG has taken. In a letter to parliament, they write that Kochenov should pay back the money he earned. 

The schools inspectorate says that ‘reimbursement is in order and a more effective signal’. Van Engelshoven agrees, but also says this is a matter between employer and employee, leaving the decision up to the UG board. The UG says reclaiming the money is legally impossible.

UG voting system sensitive to fraud

Don’t share your direct WebElect link

UG voting system sensitive to fraud

Student party De Vrije Student warns that it’s all too easy to commit voter fraud in the university elections. The direct URL to students’ personal voting page on WebElect can theoretically be used by anyone in possession of the link.

9 June om 15:58 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 10 June 2020
om 11:34 uur.
June 9 at 15:58 PM.
Last modified on June 10, 2020
at 11:34 AM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

9 June om 15:58 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 10 June 2020
om 11:34 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 9 at 15:58 PM.
Last modified on June 10, 2020
at 11:34 AM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

Students have been able to vote online in the election for the university council and the various faculty councils since Monday. All students received an email with a link to the voting system WebElect. After clicking ‘vote now’, students have to select their university and log in using their student number and password.

It’s very straightforward. But sharing the direct link to the WebElect online environment is a problem, since that URL contains both a student’s number and their password, bypassing the login screen. If you copy the link and share it with someone, that person can access your private voting page.

Computer program

The solution seems simple: just don’t share your personal link with anyone. But David Jan Meijer with De Vrije Student says there’s a bigger issue at play: ‘Since I now know what students’ usernames and passwords look like, I could write a computer program that gives me access to all the students’ login information for WebElect. Then I’d be able vote for every student who hasn’t done so yet.’

Meijer had noticed the issue when the students up for election filled out their candidate lists a few weeks ago, and he contacted WebElect. ‘After a few difficult conversations, they said they wouldn’t be able to fix it before the elections. I haven’t been able to reach them since.’

Deliberate choice

The university acknowledges the issue. ‘If a student copies the link and shares it with a friend, that friend does indeed have access to the first person’s private voting page’, a spokesperson writes. ‘It would be better it this wasn’t the case, even if someone made a deliberate choice to share the URL.’

Once a student has voted, this vote can’t be changed. The page then says the option to vote no longer exists. It’s also not shown which party and which person the student voted for.

UG wants exchange programmes to continue where possible

UG wants exchange programmes to continue

As far as the UG is concerned, students will still be able to go on their exchanges planned for the first semester of next academic year, in spite of the corona outbreak.
3 June om 11:44 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 3 June 2020
om 12:10 uur.
June 3 at 11:44 AM.
Last modified on June 3, 2020
at 12:10 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

3 June om 11:44 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 3 June 2020
om 12:10 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 3 at 11:44 AM.
Last modified on June 3, 2020
at 12:10 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

On Tuesday, the board of directors informed all faculties that, where possible, all exchange programmes will continue. ‘That doesn’t mean that every single student can go on their planned exchange’, the board writes in a response to UKrant. ‘But it’s important to make use of the opportunities as much as possible.’

Wait and see

The UG board may be keeping its options open, but it remains to be seen how many students even want to come or go on exchange. The travel advice issued by the Foreign Affairs minister is still at red or orange for most of the world.

While this will change for many countries on June 15, making travel possible again, another question is which countries will actually let in Dutch travellers. Several European universities announced over the past few weeks that all exchange programmes for the first semester will be cancelled, as have the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Guidelines

‘We need to do a lot more work to find out what programmes can continue and what needs to be cancelled’, the UG board writes. The board has therefore asked experts to rapidly come up with guidelines ‘that are flexible enough to do justice to the ever-changing situation’ that can be implemented across all faculties. It’s then up to the faculties and departments themselves to tell their students whether a planned exchange will take place.

Two weeks ago, overarching university organisation VSNU published an exchange guideline through the Erasmus+ programme. Among other things, this guideline states that universities themselves can decide whether or not to send students on exchange.

Students should however be informed in a timely manner, to allow them to find an alternative and to know whether or not to give up their room or quit their job.

Lijst Calimero requests that UG lowers institutional tuition fees

Lijst Calimero requests that UG lowers institutional tuition fees

Student party Lijst Calimero has asked that the board of directors offer a temporary rebate to students who, due to the corona crisis, won’t graduate until after the summer and will therefore have to pay institutional tuition fees.
2 June om 17:36 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 June 2020
om 17:36 uur.
June 2 at 17:36 PM.
Last modified on June 2, 2020
at 17:36 PM.


Giulia Fabrizi

Door Giulia Fabrizi

2 June om 17:36 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 June 2020
om 17:36 uur.
Giulia Fabrizi

By Giulia Fabrizi

June 2 at 17:36 PM.
Last modified on June 2, 2020
at 17:36 PM.
Giulia Fabrizi

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator
Volledig bio
News coordinator
Full bio

Faction chair Floor Buigel says it mainly concerns international students from outside the European Union. ‘They pay at least 12,000 euros a year, and while they also have a right to the government’s compensation, it pales in comparison to what they have to pay.’

On May 15, the Dutch government announced that all students suffering delays caused by the corona crisis and therefore graduating between September of 2020 and January of 2021 will be remunerated 535 euros of their tuition fees.

Erasmus University

The Erasmus University in Rotterdam recently decided that international students who pay institutional tuition fees and who won’t be able to graduate in the summer due to corona will only have to pay the legal tuition fee of 2,143 euros to finish their degree next year.

Lijst Calimero would like the UG to follow in the Rotterdam university’s footsteps and apply the same temporary rule in Groningen. ‘We’ve been talking to a lot of international students. Many of them, and their parents, don’t have a lot of financial security. They’re also really afraid that they won’t have enough ECTS to keep their student visa.’

Painful stories

While the student party has mainly heard these painful stories from international students outside the EU, they want the rule to apply to everyone. ‘Every single student who is paying institutional tuition fees should be eligible for this’, says Buigel.

She emphasises the importance of reaching ‘realistic financial security’ as quickly as possible. ‘The UG is responsible for its students. If other universities can do it, the UG should work to catch up.’