One in ten MPs is UG alumnus

One in ten MPs is UG alumnus

If you’re dreaming of a future as an elected representative, a diploma from the UG can only help. One in ten members of the current Lower House graduated from this university.
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Door Thijs Fens

12 April om 17:31 uur.
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‘Isn’t that the best trivia?’ says Remco Kouwenhoven, head of alumni relations at the UG. ‘There are twelve universities and not nearly every MP has a university degree, which means 10 percent is higher than the average. We’re really happy about it.’

The 150 new members of the Lower House aren’t an exception: the UG has always had a lot of MPs and staff among its alumni, says Kouwenhoven. ‘We’re nicely represented, which means we’ve made a sizeable contribution to governing the nation.’

Ten women

Remarkably, of the fifteen alumni currently in the House, ten are women. ‘That’s a great ratio.’ The most well-known MP among them is number 2 on the list at SP, Renske Leijten, who worked with CDA’s Pieter Omtzigt on the child allowance scandal.  

The alumni in the House come from various faculties and are evenly distributed across political parties. ‘From business administration to archaeology, and from the PVV to the Animal Rights Party.’ However, there’s no one from the really scientific departments, while law and international relations are very well-represented, with three alumni each.

‘The fifteen MPs were almost sixteen, by the way’, says Kouwenhoven. Harry van der Molen, CDA MP, studied communication and information sciences at the UG from 2004 to 2006, but did not graduate.

UG alumni in the Lower House

  • Sandra Beckerman, SP, archaeology 2007, PhD 2015
  • Sietze Fritsma, PVV, social geography 1998
  • Folkert Idsinga, VVD, fiscal economy 1996
  • Roelien Kamminga, VVD, international relations 2004
  • Hūlya Kat, D66, Dutch law 2009
  • Anne Kuik, CDA, Dutch law recht 2013
  • Renske Leijten, SP, BA in Dutch 2004
  • Agnes Mulder, CDA, international relations 1998
  • Henk Nijboer, PvdA, economy 2007
  • Hilde Palland-Mulder, CDA, Dutch law 2002
  • Kati Piri, PvdA, international relations 2007
  • Lammert van Raan, PvdD, business administration 1987
  • Aukje de Vries, VVD, social geography 1989
  • Hanneke van der Werf, D66, journalism 2008
  • Dennis Wiersma, VVD, BA in sociology 2009

Extra study room available at faculties

Extra study room available at faculties and Forum

If you’re looking for a place to study that isn’t your room, you are welcome again at various faculties. The Forum has also opened its door to students.
30 March om 12:18 uur.
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om 16:27 uur.
March 30 at 12:18 PM.
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Door Thijs Fens

30 March om 12:18 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 30 March 2021
om 16:27 uur.

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March 30 at 12:18 PM.
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at 16:27 PM.

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The UB currently has 210 desks available, but these have been reserved for vulnerable students. The faculty spaces are available to all students and can be reserved through LibCal.

‘We’ve seen that people really need it’, says Manda Broekhuis, vice dean at the Faculty of Economics and Business. This faculty has room for 125 students, and it’s not just FEB students that make use of the space. ‘I was walking the halls and I saw a law student.’

Entire day 

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS) has also reopened so students can come and study. ‘Last week, we had room for approximately fifty students, but we’ve been working on making more space available’, says Mirjam Buigel-De Witte with the faculty board. 

Students can reserve a desk for an entire day. ‘We’re looking into possibly changing this to a few time slots a week, just like other faculties are doing.’

Monitoring

At the Faculty of Arts, students can sign up for three time slots a week. ‘We have room for 75 students’, says vide dean Roel Jonkers. ‘They can pick three time slots a week. The time slots run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.’

Adherence to the time slots is monitored. Upon arrival, the students have to present their UG ID and proof of reservation. ‘Obviously, everyone also has to observe the rules; they have to disinfect their hands and stay five feet away from one another’, says Jonkers.

‘It’s great that we can do this again’, says Buigel-De Witte. Even though the desks are all being reserved, she’s noticed that students sometimes don’t show up. ‘That’s a shame. They should really cancel their reservation in time so other students can use the space.’

Forum

The Forum at the Nieuwe Markt also opened its doors this Monday and has room for 150 students per time slot, which run from 8.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Various parties on the city council felt that reopening the building to young people was taking too long and called on the executive board of the municipality to get a move on last week. 

‘My bubble has become even smaller’

Living with the corona restrictions

‘My bubble has become even smaller’

They have to abide by the 9 p.m. curfew, have very little social interaction, and can only have one visitor per day. How are students dealing with the restrictions?
4 March om 15:28 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 8 March 2021
om 10:20 uur.
March 4 at 15:28 PM.
Last modified on March 8, 2021
at 10:20 AM.


Door Thijs Fens

4 March om 15:28 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 8 March 2021
om 10:20 uur.

By Thijs Fens

March 4 at 15:28 PM.
Last modified on March 8, 2021
at 10:20 AM.

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Gwen (21) checks her phone. ‘Oh shit, it’s a quarter to 9 already.’ She looks at her friend, a question in her eyes. They’re hanging out on the couch and drinking beer, and they’re not ready to go home. There’s just one problem: the curfew starts at 9.

What to do? ‘Just stay. You can sleep on the couch’, Gwen’s friend says.

It’s quite the dilemma: going home early when you’re having a good time, or staying over and taking a chance on the couch. Gwen ultimately picks the latter.

Dennis (a pseudonym) went for a third option: ignoring the curfew and risk getting a fine. He got away with it a bunch of times, but last week, his luck ran out: the police stopped him on his way to a party. ‘That sucked, obviously. 95 euros is a lot, I couldn’t really afford it.’

Lonely

The corona restrictions are having a negative impact on many students. They see their friends less, they can’t go out drinking, and their classes are all online. The far-reaching measures affect their daily lives.

This includes Esmee (20), who lives with two roommates she barely sees. They only ever talk about practical stuff like cleaning or buying toilet paper. ‘The only person I see right now is my girlfriend’, says Esmee. ‘I’m having a tough time seeing so few people. I’m feeling pretty lonely.’

We get tested a lot to minimise the risk

She’s very happy to be in a relationship. ‘At least I have someone to talk to.’ Her girlfriend is fairly strict in following the rules. ‘We make sure to always talk about it.’

While they each have their own room, they practically live together. ‘We keep moving back and forth between our rooms. When we have class, we each retreat to our own room.’ Esmee hasn’t met up with friends in two months, and she usually rejects any invitations she gets. ‘It is what it is. Fortunately, my room is really big and nice.’

Too hard

Dennis doesn’t want to be too hard on himself. ‘I’d rather pay 95 euros for a few fun nights than sit in my room getting lonely.’ He and his friends would usually plan their route very carefully when they broke curfew, but they got careless. ‘We cycled through the city centre just this once. And then we ran into an undercover police car. That sucked.’

He’s not too strict on how many people he lets into his house, either. He lives with ten other guys, and it’s not unlikely for this number to double when friends are over. ‘But we get tested a lot, to minimise the risk.’

Schedules

The inhabitants of Villa Kremlin try to enforce the rules as much as they can. Eline (21) lives with sixteen roommates, which makes it difficult to have just one visitor a day at the house.

We just meet up at 5 instead of 7

‘It’s basically impossible, but we try to take it into account as much as possible.’ People use the group chat or the house calendar to indicate that they’re expecting a visitor. Partners coming over doesn’t count as a visit. ‘Sometimes, there are too many people in the house at the same time, and then we have a house meeting about that the next day. It’s not easy, since some people don’t follow the rules as strictly as others.’

They have a house meeting every Tuesday. When it overlaps with a press conference by Mark Rutte and Hugo de Jonge, they discuss what the restrictions mean for their situation. ‘It’s nice that the house is so big, because it means my roommates can stay out of the way of my visitors. But it can be difficult to schedule things around the curfew.’

Less spontaneous

Gwen is struggling, too. ‘My schedule isn’t as spontaneous. You have to plan everything.’ She spends more time at home these days. ‘My bubble was pretty small already, but the curfew has only made it smaller.’ She still sees her friends, though. ‘We just meet up at 5 rather than at 7.’

Occasionally, when she’s having a really good time, Gwen might sleep on someone’s couch. ‘But only once or twice, not several nights a week.’

What about Dennis? He’s laying low for a little bit. ‘But if they extend the curfew again, there’s a good chance I’ll take the risk again.’

More study spaces at the UB

More study spaces at the UB

Starting Monday, February 15, the UB will be able to accommodate 280 students per shift. The spaces are being made available to those who need an external location to study.
15 February om 16:50 uur.
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Door Thijs Fens

15 February om 16:50 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 15 February 2021
om 16:50 uur.

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Until late last month, the UB had seventy spaces available for vulnerable students. The library was only open in the morning. The library has been open in the afternoon since February 1, which means a total of 140 students were allowed inside the UB every day.

‘But this Monday, we’re scaling up our capacity to 140 study spaces, which means we have room for 280 students a day at the UB’, says UB spokesperson Babette Knauer. ‘Everything is in accordance with the corona restrictions, of course.’

Recommendation

Anyone who wants to study at the UB needs a recommendation from their study advisor. Students can then reserve no more than three shifts a week. Both conditions are strictly monitored, says Knauer.

‘You have to present the recommendation to the front desk when you come in. They’ll be able to check when your reservation is and how many you made. It’ll allow us to prevent students coming in more times than they’ve reserved.’

Vulnerable

Over the past few weeks, many people wondered what the term ‘vulnerable’ meant. When is a student considered vulnerable and allowed into the UB? ‘The term is basically impossible to define’, says Odette Ruyters, head of the Student Service Centre. ‘There are always multiple factors at play. It varies per student, so you have to determine it on a case-by-case basis.’

Nevertheless, attempts were made to define the term ‘vulnerable’. Generally speaking, it concerns students who need an external study location due to special circumstances.

‘Students who have problems focusing or structuring their day, for example, students who are really sensitive to external stimuli because of a disability, mental or physical disorders, or who have a difficult domestic situation.’

Students facing these issues can go to their study advisor, wo will then determine whether the student qualifies for a spot at the UB.

Who’s allowed to study in the UB?

Confusion about what ‘vulnerable’ means

Who’s allowed to study in the UB?

The UB has made room to allow vulnerable students to study in the building during the lockdown, but no one is really sure who exactly is entitled to this.

25 January om 14:26 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 26 January 2021
om 16:14 uur.
January 25 at 14:26 PM.
Last modified on January 26, 2021
at 16:14 PM.


Door Thijs Fens

25 January om 14:26 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 26 January 2021
om 16:14 uur.

By Thijs Fens

January 25 at 14:26 PM.
Last modified on January 26, 2021
at 16:14 PM.

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Right now, study advisers determine whether students are considered vulnerable or not. ‘Last week, we realised the word is too open to interpretation and that different faculties have different definitions’, says director of education Rutger Klein Nagelvoort.

This means that a medical student might be denied entry into the UB by their faculty, while the arts faculty does allow one of their students, even though their circumstances are the same. ‘That’s confusing for students, and we’d like to prevent that’, says Klein Nagelvoort.

Available desks

Faculties have trouble figuring out whether their vulnerable students are allowed into the UB or not. During the most recent faculty board meeting, the board of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences said the UB should make more desks available, since the faculty didn’t have enough room. 

This came after the board of directors sent an update to students and staff on January 14, which said, among other things, that the UB had 225 available desks. 

UB spokesperson Babette Knauer, however, says there are currently only seventy desks available. ‘That number is sufficient at this time.’

Confusion

So how many study spots are there exactly? How many are needed? And who is even allowed to use them? Student assessor to the university board Teun Havinga confirms that people at the university are confused. ‘It’s a really complicated situation.’ 

This isn’t helped by the lack of a university-wide definition of ‘vulnerable’. The Committee of Educational Strategy has been asked to formulate a clear definition that applies to everyone. ‘That will allow us and the faculties to be in line with each other’, says Klein Nagelvoort.

Definition

A decision on the definition is expected this week, but Havinga says there will still be room for interpretation. ‘It won’t be just a short definition.’ But, he adds, ‘at least it will give study advisers something to hold on to’.

He also feels the situation concerning emergency study spots should be addressed. ‘People often talk about the space available at the UB, but I think we should be looking at the number of vulnerable students and go from there.’

BSS vice dean electable for new political party

BSS vice dean electable for new political party

Klaas van Veen will be electable in the Lower House elections in March, as part of new political party NLBeter. The vice dean of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS) hopes that experts from education and healthcare will be able to make a real difference when it comes to policy.
12 January om 13:54 uur.
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om 13:54 uur.
January 12 at 13:54 PM.
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Door Thijs Fens

12 January om 13:54 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 12 January 2021
om 13:54 uur.

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Why did you decide to join the party as a candidate?

‘A good friend of mine who’s second on the list called me during the Christmas holidays. I thought he was joking at first, but he was serious. I got more into it when I heard the party’s ideals. I can criticise and yell all I want, but you can’t stay on the sidelines if you want things to change. It’s time to take action.’

What are the party’s ideals, exactly?

‘NLBeter wants to tackle the urgent issues concerning education, healthcare, and the environment. What’s so great about this party is that the people up for election are experts from the field. They know what they’re talking about. We have experience. We know how things work, since it’s our everyday business. It’s a great project that will bring something new to the political world.’

What will you contribute to the party?

‘Over the past twenty-five years, I’ve done a lot of research into how to organise education to allow students to learn and lecturers to work. I think I’ll be able to contribute to policy. In collaboration with lecturers and schools we can make ourselves be heard better.’

Will you be campaigning?

‘Ideally, yes. I’m not sure how that would work here at the university, since I’m a vice dean. I don’t want my two different roles to mix. But I definitely want national attention, by publishing articles in newspapers for example. I’m already doing that. Then again, I’m at the bottom of the list. There’s a reason I’m number thirteen on the list. They initially wanted to put me in fifth place, but that was a bit much for me. I don’t actually want a seat in the Lower House. I have two young children, so it’s not a great time for me to become a politician.’

What if enough people vote for you?

‘Then it’s on! I’d take my responsibility. But I’d want the best post, of course: minister of education, haha. If you really want to change things, you can’t be afraid. My partner and children support me, fortunately. They’ve seen how passionate I am. I’ve also informed the faculty. If people want me to leave Groningen, they should definitely vote for me. If the whole faculty ends up voting for me, I’ll know how they really feel about me!’

Groningen’s low self-esteem is bad for the economy

‘Show people how vibrant we are’

Groningen’s low self-esteem is bad for the economy

What’s the first thing people think of when they hear the name Groningen? UG lecturers Karel Jan Alsem and Sierdjan Koster studied what image the city and its surrounding countryside have. ‘There’s room for improvement.’

11 January om 17:33 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 12 January 2021
om 14:05 uur.
January 11 at 17:33 PM.
Last modified on January 12, 2021
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Door Thijs Fens

11 January om 17:33 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 12 January 2021
om 14:05 uur.

By Thijs Fens

January 11 at 17:33 PM.
Last modified on January 12, 2021
at 14:05 PM.

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The name Groningen conjures up images of the Martini tower and students, but also farmers and earthquakes. ‘An area’s image is extremely important, for example if you want to boost the economy’, says Karel Jan Alsem, marketing lecturer at the UG. 

According to Alsem, the main things taken into account when making economic policy are prosperity and health. Image is often overlooked. ‘But we should be including it; it places a hugely important role in how people make choices’, he says. ‘People’s subconscious plays a role in 90 percent of the decisions they make. Image influences behaviour.’

Image monitor

The National Programma Groningen (NPG) commissioned Alsem, economic geographer Sierdjan Koster, and two other colleagues to create an image monitor. The NPG’s goal is to improve widespread prosperity and Groningen’s image over the course of the next ten years.

The four researchers created an extensive survey asking Groningen residents, non-Groningen residents, and corporations to describe what they associate Groningen with. The eight thousand participants were asked if they wanted to study, live, or start a company in Groningen, among other things. They could rate their willingness from 0 to 10. The survey also focused on word association: what did people think of when hearing the name Groningen? 

Far away

Many of the non-Groningen residents answered with words like ‘Martini tower’, ‘student city’, and ‘earthquakes’. Groningen residents had expected them to think of words like ‘too far’, ‘farmers’, or ‘surly people’.

‘What we’ve seen is that Groningen residents underestimate themselves’, says Koster. ‘They think non-Groningen residents think poorly of them, but that’s not true.’ 

Another result showed that people don’t associate Groningen with entrepreneurship. ‘That might lead to Groningen corporations not investing as much capital, or corporations being hesitant to set up shop in Groningen.

‘This can also lead to banks or other corporations refusing to settle in Groningen’, says Koster. ‘The wrong image can negatively impact an area.’

Underestimate

He says that the fact that Groningen residents underestimate their province also impacts its image. ‘If they don’t have faith in themselves, why should outsiders have any? If you show people how vibrant the province is, people will automatically be attracted to it.’

Koster says there is room for improvement. ‘The authorities should show their own people that Groningen is doing pretty good! And they should show not just outside corporations, but also the corporations that are already here.’ 

Usually, corporations appreciate the area they’re in the most. ‘That makes sense; why else would they set up shop there?’ However, Groningen is less appreciated than Drenthe or Friesland, for example. ‘We don’t know why’, says Koster. ‘My economic geography students are currently studying this.’

Entrepreneurship

He thinks Groningen should focus more on entrepreneurship. ‘People don’t really consider Groningen to be a young area, when especially the city is a student city with a large number of young people.’ 

The information from the study could be used to pick special projects to improve the province’s image. ‘Like a special campaign that shows that Groningen is a good area for entrepreneurs’, says Alsem. ‘Specific marketing can be very useful. But you have to make funds available. In the end, you want corporations to settle here and to attract tourists.’

Annual measurement

Before this study, there were no data sets on how people felt about Groningen. ‘Now there is one. We’ll definitely be studying it for a while’, says Alsem. Additionally, Groningen’s image will be measured annually over the next ten years. ‘That will allow us to see how it develops. Hopefully it improves. That would be great.’

In spite of lockdown, internationals won’t be alone on Christmas

Internationals won’t be alone on Christmas

International don’t have to worry about being lonely this Christmas, in spite of the new corona measures. The events that have been organised just for them will still take place, although they’ll look a little different.
16 December om 9:20 uur.
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om 10:19 uur.
December 16 at 9:20 AM.
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Door Thijs Fens

16 December om 9:20 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 16 December 2020
om 10:19 uur.

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December 16 at 9:20 AM.
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‘No one should be alone for Christmas’, says David Kraandijk, president of the Erasmus Student Network Groningen (ESN). So ESN came up with a special Christmas campaign.

Many internationals are stuck here because of the pandemic. At ESN, they can sign up to get together over the holidays. Originally, they were supposed to have dinner in groups of four, matched on the basis of things like hobbies and diet preferences.

‘Because of the new measures, we’re reducing the groups to three people. It’s a shame, since it means fewer social contacts, but rules are rules’, says David. ESN is also creating a Facebook group where internationals can invite each other to go on a walk or a run.

Dinner parties

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences came up with a similar campaign. Internationals students and staff could sign up to have dinner together or take a walk around Groningen in pairs. ‘The set-up for our dinner parties already consisted of one host and two guests, so we won’t have to change anything’, says Mirjam Buigel-De Witte with the faculty board. ‘But we’ll let them decide if they would rather go for a walk than have dinner.’

People can sign up for the ESN Christmas campaign on their website. Registration is open until December 21. Dutch students can also sign up. ‘If they can’t go home because their parents are infected, for instance, they’re more than welcome’, says David.

BSS: No one should be alone on Christmas

Stuck in the Netherlands due to the pandemic

BSS: No one should be alone on Christmas

Students and staff at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences will not have to be alone this Christmas. The campaign ‘Bie Mekerst’ puts people together to celebrate.
4 December om 9:32 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 7 December 2020
om 13:59 uur.
December 4 at 9:32 AM.
Last modified on December 7, 2020
at 13:59 PM.


Door Thijs Fens

4 December om 9:32 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 7 December 2020
om 13:59 uur.

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December 4 at 9:32 AM.
Last modified on December 7, 2020
at 13:59 PM.

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A lot of international students and staff are stuck in the Netherlands this Christmas due to the pandemic. The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS) thinks no one should be alone on Christmas, so they’ve organised the campaign

‘Bie Mekerst’, which roughly translates to ‘Together on Christmas’. BSS students and staff can sign up to find people to take a walk with or have dinner with. ‘It’s really sad that internationals won’t be able to spend Christmas with their families this year. Especially after this difficult online year’, says Mirjam Buigel-De Witte with the faculty board.

That’s why they decided on this campaign where people could meet in real life. ‘Everything is compliant with the RIVM guidelines, of course.’

Walking routes

People can get together in pairs and pick a walking route in or around Groningen. They can also get together for dinner. In groups of three, with one person hosting, they’ll spend an evening cooking and enjoying the food. ‘We want the internationals to know that we’re thinking of them, especially now.’

‘Bie Mekerst’ was inspired by ‘Bie Mekoar’ (Groningen dialect for ‘together’), an initiative that unites the different study programmes at BSS through the organisation of activities. ‘Bie Mekerst’ will be successful ‘when all the international students and staff feel like it’s Christmas’, says Buigel-De Witte.

Anyone at BSS, including Dutch students and staff, can sign up. Registration is open until December 7. You can say whether you want to meet up with students or with staff, and whether you want to host or just be a visitor.

The groups will be announced on December 14, allowing people to meet up between December 14 and January 3.

We’ll have to wait and see if Nestor holds up

No one specific cause for glitches

We’ll have to wait and see if Nestor holds up

The Nestor malfunction that prevented approximately a thousand students from sitting their exams in November could not have been prevented. The system might suffer glitches in the future, too.
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om 10:59 uur.
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1 December om 14:13 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 2 December 2020
om 10:59 uur.

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Ronald Stolk, director at the Centre for Information Technology (CIT), was upset when he heard about the malfunction that caused the cancellation of seven exams in November. ‘I can’t imagine how awful it is to be ready and prepared to sit an exam, only to have it be cancelled at the last moment’, he says. 

‘But let’s remember that 96 percent of exams that day were administered. Although that didn’t help the 4 percent of students who couldn’t sit theirs.’ While the glitch followed two smaller ones that took place in October, Stolk did not see it coming.

Stress test

‘We ran several tests over the summer with the online tools we’d be using this year, like the option to record classes and administer exams online’, says Stolk. 

Stolk says a stress test, which involves checking whether the online environment has the capacity to handle the expected usage during the busiest times, was not performed, because usage during the summer is nothing like the volume of usage in November.

He emphasises that it’s not just about the system’s capacity – how many people work in Nestor simultaneously – but also about what people are using the system for. In a short period of time, Nestor transformed from an online environment that students would log onto quickly to check something, to an environment that is used often by thousands of students and lecturers every day for long periods of time, for both classes and exams. It turned out the system couldn’t cope with that change.

Not one specific cause

Stolk admits that he didn’t know what was going on during the November malfunction. ‘There wasn’t one specific cause we could point to. Together with the contractor we analysed the issue afterwards.’ 

The analysis showed the impact the difference in usage had on the way the Nestor system functioned.

Stolk says Nestor simply wasn’t equipped to handle the combination of the increased usage for online classes and the usage for online exams. But, he emphasises, there was no one specific cause for the glitch. ‘We can’t definitely point to something and say: that’s what went wrong.’ 

Increased capacity

The analysis did lead to a possible solution: increase Nestor’s capacity. The capacity has also been adjusted to match the new way in which the system is being used. ‘If all goes well, we shouldn’t have any more glitches’, says Stolk.

The system is now being monitored for the issues that have come to light. However, Stolk would not be surprised if more glitches occur in the future. ‘As the past few months have proven, you never know.’ 

Long grading times frustrate students

Long grading times frustrate students

Students at various faculties are being made to wait for their grades on essays or exams. While they do understand the situation, they say communication is lacking.
25 November om 11:06 uur.
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Door Thijs Fens

25 November om 11:06 uur.
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Thijs Fens

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‘Some students have been waiting for over a month for a grade on their assignments’, says Marie-Cecile Hatzmann, faculty council member at the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB). ‘That’s okay, certainly now that many exams are online or in a different format altogether, but lecturers should communicate it better. They’re not doing that right now.’

Under normal circumstances, students could just drop by their lecturer’s office, says Hatzmann. ‘But if you get no response to your email, there’s nothing else left to do.’

Extended deadlines

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS) has been dealing with the same issue. The faculty has changed the grading deadline from ten working days to ten to twenty working days, but this isn’t always clear to students, nor to lecturers. 

‘They sent us an email about it, but I can imagine that a lot of students missed that’, says faculty council member Bart Kranenborg. ‘Perhaps they should resend it. The uncertainty can cause the students extra stress.’

The law faculty is doing better in this regard, says student and faculty council member Niek Blaauw. ‘We usually get grades within ten days. But it seems like some deadlines are extended all too easily, and no one tells us. But on the whole, we’re happy with how things are going.’

Frustrations

Klaas van Veen, BSS vice dean, understands the students’ frustration. ‘Communication on this should be improved, we’ll definitely look into that.’ Van Veen suggests a dedicated web page to communicate the information and share updates. ‘I can imagine that students are getting sick of all those different emails.’

‘It’s important to communicate to students when lecturers won’t make the grading deadline’, says Manda Broekhuis, FEB vice dean. ‘I know for a fact that many lecturers do this. But if they don’t, students should be made aware of this as well. Good communication solves a lot of problems.’  

AFAS preventing student assistants from getting paid

AFAS preventing student assistants from getting paid

Many student assistants have yet to receive their salary since the start of their position in September. This is because of issues with AFAS, the system they use to enter their information.
25 November om 9:50 uur.
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om 16:06 uur.
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Door Thijs Fens

25 November om 9:50 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 30 November 2020
om 16:06 uur.

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November 25 at 9:50 AM.
Last modified on November 30, 2020
at 16:06 PM.

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‘It’s a fairly complicated process’, says project manager Erwin Boelens, who’s aware of the issues. ‘There are a lot of steps, and the system can freeze up at any one of those. Just one mistake and you’re stuck.’

One piece of information the students have to provide is where they’re from, but internationals ran into trouble when the system wouldn’t recognise the small town they were from. ‘That’s not good. But we’re working on it.’ 

Dutch

The system is also mainly in Dutch, which is causing more problems for internationals. ‘There should be a little button to toggle the system to English. But apparently, it’s not always available. We’re looking into it.’

At a faculty meeting at Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS), it was also revealed that students tend to not know what they’re doing wrong. They’re also having trouble logging into the system. The error message is then sent to the lecturers rather than the students, leading to an unnecessary volume of emails.

‘BSS has made me aware of the issue’, says Boelens. ‘But it’s not going well at other faculties either, like the Faculty of Science and Engineering and the Faculty of Arts.’

Contact point

To solve the issues, each faculty will get a contact point. There is a workshop on November 30, where support staff will receive information about the system and what to do in case of problems. ‘We’re hoping to speed up the process that way’, says Boelens.

BSS has finished the administrative process for approximately 60 percent of student assistants. The faculty hopes to finish the rest soon. ‘The students need to get paid, obviously’, says Boelens. ‘As soon as possible.’

New marking system to prevent cheating at psychology

New marking system to prevent cheating at psychology

During the next exam period, the psychology department will be marking seven exams using a pass or fail system. The exams are for courses for large groups of first- and second-year students and are particularly susceptible to cheating.
22 September om 13:31 uur.
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om 16:21 uur.
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22 September om 13:31 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.

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The corona pandemic means more exams are administered online, which means that especially multiple-choice exams are sensitive to cheating. ‘That is why we want to change the way we mark the exams, since a grade doesn’t mean much in exams that can easily be cheated on’, says Maarten Derksen, chair of the psychology department’s exam committee. 

Students don’t have to worry about their grade average. ‘They’ll receive a grade average based on exams that were marked with a grade. The pass or fail will be left out of the evaluation. People will still be able to graduate with honours.’

Nevertheless, Derksen understand why students are concerned or annoyed. ‘The corona crisis impacts all students, and it’s really inconvenient, especially since grades can have a profound effect on your career.’

Once the coronavirus has been eradicated, students will be allowed to retake their exams in a future academic year, even if they passed the first time. Normally, students are only allowed to retake an exam they passed in the same academic year, but the department is making an exception. ‘Students can retake the exam and have it marked with an actual grade should they so desire.’

Where can I find a job?

How to survive in Groningen

Where can I find a job?

Students can use all the money they can get. A job also looks good on your CV. Here are the best jobs for students in Groningen.
19 August om 8:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
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19 August om 8:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.

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Meal delivery

They’re everywhere: students on electric bikes delivering food. The most well-known companies are Uber Eats, Thuisbezorgd, and Dominos, but lesser-known places like The Foodspot and Fooddrop are always looking for delivery people. It’s a great way for international students to get to know the city by bike.

Barista, bartender, service work

What’s better than a job in the hospitality industry? It’s can be hard work, but it’ll leave you feeling satisfied at the end of the day. It’s also a great way to meet new people, as a lot of students work these kinds of jobs.

Teaching assistant

If you are really into studying, you’d probably make a good teaching assistant. Teaching assistants help out with classes, help prepare and administer exams, and help and support in research activities. The work can be interesting, and it’ll look good on your CV.

Babysitting

Do you like kids? Babysitting might just be the job for you. It’s a lot of responsibility to take on, but if you can deal with that, it’s perfect. And once the kids have gone to bed, you can watch television or study. Perfect!

Tutoring

You only just graduated high school, so you can probably still remember everything you learned. Were you always particularly good at French? Or maybe physics was more your thing. Use that knowledge. Groningen has several homework institutes where you can work at a tutor or supervise students doing their homework.

Promotional work

Are you convincing and do you enjoy going up to people to talk to them? Promotional work might be the thing for you. Together with other students, you’ll go out on the street to sell products. The more you sell, the more money you make. A day spent talking to people could be worth a lot!

Editing

If you prefer working from home. editing is a good choice for you. You can join Scribbr, for example, to edit theses and reports. You’ll check language, the general structure, and the layout.

Considering a master in psychology? You’ll have to apply

Considering a master in psychology? You’ll have to apply

Students who want to do a psychology master programme at the UG will have to go through a selection procedure, starting the 2021/20222 academic year, with the exception of the master Theory and History of Psychology. The department cannot handle the influx anymore.
29 June om 13:15 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:21 uur.
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Last modified on November 22, 2020
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29 June om 13:15 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
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‘The clinical master programmes are particularly popular, says Klaas van Veen, vice dean at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences. ‘There are no funds to expand our capacity, which means we’ll have to start making a selection.’ 

The influx problem started a few years ago. Last year, the clinical programmes had room for one hundred students, but 180 students registered. 

Cutbacks

‘We’re right at the limit of our capacity’, says Van Veen. ‘We worked really hard to accommodate all those students, but at the same time, we’re dealing with cutbacks. Otherwise we’d expanded our capacity.’

The selection procedure will be implemented for all psychology master programmes. Students will be tested on their general knowledge of psychology and they’ll have to write a motivation letter. 

Quality

Van Veen understands that students are worried this will mean they won’t be able to do their preferred master. ‘We don’t want to have to do this either, but we have no choice. If we keep going like this, we won’t be able to provide students with the quality education we want.’

The news follows the announcement that the psychology bachelor’s capacity will be increased from 600 to 650 students. The department is admitting more students since it’s expected that more students will drop out due to the corona crisis.

‘We’ve made careful calculations’, Van Veen says. ‘Approximately half the bachelor students decide to do a master programme outside of Groningen, so it shouldn’t cause any problems.’

Laboratories open for longer to make up for lost research time

One of the researchers in Bert Poolman’s group at work in the lab.

Students can’t come in yet

Laboratories open for longer to make up for lost time

For the first time since the corona crisis started, people are allowed back into the UG labs, albeit under strict conditions.

19 May om 20:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:20 uur.
May 19 at 20:00 PM.
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19 May om 20:00 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:20 uur.

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For PhD student Marco van der Noort, it’s both nice and strange to be back in the lab. The molecular biologist studies how substances are transported in bacterial cells. ‘I’m thrilled that I can continue my experiments. But it’s also weird because I’m here alone all day.’ 

He doesn’t interact with any colleagues, because there aren’t any around. ‘My lunch break is so boring. My day is just eight hours of silence. At least I’m getting a lot of work done.’

Prepare at home

All the labs at the Faculty of Science and Engineering reopened on May 11. Before that, they could only be used for corona-related research during the two months of the lockdown. ‘But all that research was on an extremely small scale’, says biochemistry professor Bert Poolman.

He supervises a group of approximately twenty researchers, mainly PhD students and postdocs. Van der Noort is part of his group, as well. ‘They’re slowly allowed into the lab again, but there are some strict conditions’, says Poolman. The research has to be prepared at home and the scientists have to reserve a time slot.

The lab can only be used for the necessary equipment measurements. Only two people are allowed in labs over twenty-five square feet; under that, only one person is allowed in at a time. ‘There’s a maximum occupancy of 25 percent.’

Cleaning

PhD student Eleonora Bailoni, also part of Poolman’s group, thinks it’s all very strange. ‘I’m alone all the time and even when my co-workers are here, we have to stay away from each other. We have to thoroughly clean everything. That’s stressful since we’re working with time constraints. But I’m mainly happy, obviously.’

Poolman realised back in February that the UG labs would probably be closing. ‘I was reading the news and figured it wouldn’t end well.’ He had his group speed up their experiments. ‘It helped a little, but we’ll probably have to make up for lost time.’

The labs will stay open for longer to allow the researcher to get as much work done as possible. ‘We start at seven in the morning and keep going until eight at night’, says Poolman. The labs are also open on Saturdays, and the Sunday is being considered. ‘I love watching how hard everyone is working. I really appreciate that.’

Lost time

Regular students aren’t allowed into the lab just yet. ‘We hope to hear more about that soon. As it currently stands, they’ll be allowed back in September.’ 

Everyone has lost valuable research time, says Poolman. ‘That’s especially bothersome for PhD students who’ve nearly finished their research, or postdocs whose contracts are ending.’ 

The shutdown won’t affect Van den Noort or Bailoni much; they only just started their PhD studies. ‘It could have been much worse’, says Bailoni. ‘These two months haven’t been great, but at least I have plenty of time left to finish my research.’

Shutdown UG buildings works out for renovation projects

Shutdown UG buildings works out for renovation projects

Renovation projects at the UG have not been hampered by the corona crisis. It has its advantages, although it doesn’t necessarily mean the work is going faster.

21 April om 13:11 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:20 uur.
April 21 at 13:11 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
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21 April om 13:11 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:20 uur.

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April 21 at 13:11 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
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‘The good news during these bizarre times is that the renovations aren’t disrupting any educational activities’, says Marleen Iemhoff, facility manager at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS). The large-scale renovation of the old extension at the Heymans complex is nearly finished. 

‘Normally, the builders would have to cease drilling and demolition activities by nine in the morning, but now they can keep going all day. They don’t need to be quiet because of students and staff. They’re getting a lot of work done’, says Iemhoff. ‘Plus, they can blast the radio all day long’, she says, laughing. ‘They couldn’t do that before.’

Delay

In order to obey the distancing rules, the builders don’t carpool as much and stagger their lunch breaks. ‘It’s all being monitored by the site manager.’

The building was originally supposed to be finished in April, but the deadline has been moved to early May. The delay would have happened with or without the coronavirus, says Iemhoff. When the renovation’s done, it’s time for the internal infrastructure. ‘We hope everything can be delivered on time, but the virus could pose a problem, for instance if certain factories are shut down.’ 

Asbestos

The Linnaeusborg is also being renovated. ‘Because the building is closed, no one is bothered by the activities’, says FSE housing manager Andrys Weitenberg. ‘The builders have much more freedom.’ 

Nevertheless, the project, which involves the creation of two new laboratories, has suffered a three-week delay. ‘The contractor has less staff because of the coronavirus.’

One advantage of the shutdown is that there is now time for projects that would have presented a challenge otherwise. Extra asbestos has been removed at Nijenborgh 4, says Weitenberg. ‘Now is the ideal time to do that. There are few risks involved and it bothers no one.’

Quiet roads

The advantages are also evident at the Zernikelaan project, where bicycle paths and sidewalks are being renovated. ‘The roads are much quieter’, says grounds management head Mark Bloeming. ‘There are fewer pedestrians and cyclists, and the buses aren’t as full. We’ve been able to move up several projects that would have otherwise caused a lot of nuisance.’