UKrant election compass 2021

The UG should reconsider its partnership with Chinese institutions, such as Chinese universities and The Confucius Institute

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The UG should set a quota to employ more female and/or non-western staff.

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The UG focuses too much on excellence programmes, success grants and high grades.

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To become a more sustainable university, the UG should end partnerships with large polluters, such as Shell and Gasterra.

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The UG should end her marketing campaign abroad.

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Students have the responsibility to arrange their own housing. They should have their own room before their study commences.

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The UG should focus on flexible studying, for example by experimenting with payment per study credit instead of per academic year.

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If the BSA is maintained, it should be improved in the following way:

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The UG must guarantee education to students who, for whatever reason, don't get vaccinated or tested for COVID-19.

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If they are organised properly, digital lectures are a fine replacement for physical lectures.

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The result

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De Vrije Student

Doughnut Party


1. The UG should reconsider its partnership with Chinese institutions, such as Chinese universities and The Confucius Institute. 

  1. SOG: China isn’t just a powerful economic and political nation: the country is also playing an increasingly large role in science and academia. Collaborating with Chinese partners can be very valuable. However, this collaboration should champion academic freedom, and critical remarks should never be suppressed. Unfortunately, a partnership like this isn’t currently possible. Some Chinese students at the UG feel like they’re not allowed to do research that is critical of the Chinese government. This goes against the very values of the University of Groningen and is therefore unacceptable.
  2. Calimero: Lijst Calimero champions transparency and academic freedom. Due to the worrying reports from human rights organisations, we made attempts to gain more insight into the partnership with the Confucius Institute. We’ve concluded that it would be better for the UG itself to provide Chinese language classes, rendering the Confucius Institute redundant. Any collaboration with other Chinese partners should always be in the spirit of transparency. China is a global player in the field of education and science, so it’s important to collaborate with them. However, we should always maintain academic freedom and scientific integrity while doing so.
  3. DVS: Agree. De Vrije Student wants the UG to investigate all her partnerships with undemocratic countries and terminate them if they form a threat to the academic freedom and safety of students and staff. Freedom and safety are our core values and they may not be undermined.
  4. Doughnut Party: While bridging ties across international borders is healthy for a global university, the current partnership is not without issues. As other institutes across Europe have closed partnerships with Chinese institutions in recent years, it would be prudent for the UG to further consider its position. It is the responsibility of the UG to protect the academic freedom of researchers within the UG.

2. The UG should set a quota to employ more female and/or non-western staff.

  1. SOG: Above all, the UG is an educational institute that aims to provide the highest quality of education. The university should always hire the professors who are the best at what they do, and not hire people based on their background. This benefits the students, who might go on to become future professors, best. However, the university should let people apply anonymously in an effort to guarantee equal opportunities.
  2. Calimero: Diversity and inclusion are core values at Lijst Calimero. Right now, the professors at the UG do not reflect the make-up of our academic community. This is improving slowly but surely, but that isn’t fast enough, and it isn’t a natural process. Quota can be a helpful tool to speed up the process. However, quota alone aren’t enough. We have to make sure the university stimulates the desired diversity, and we should find a solution for the structural issue of inequality. We should organise proper parental leave (for both mothers and fathers), for instance, or promote the confidential adviser and give them better tools.
  3. DVS: Disagree. In her policy the UG has to put effort in equal opportunities, not in equal outcomes. If you put your effort in equal opportunities, this will lead to diversity. If you put your effort in equal outcomes, than equal opportunities will be the first to perish.
  4. Doughnut Party: A quota to facilitate increased employment of female staff should be considered extensively. With the Netherlands as one of the European countries with the lowest percentage of female professors in universities, opportunities need to be provided to bridge this gap. Not only implementing the quota is necessary but ensuring there is a supportive network to help newly hired staff would benefit the initiative.

3. The UG focuses too much on excellence programmes, success grants and high grades.

  1. SOG: It’s important to reward academic achievements. Programmes like the Honours track are a good way to stimulate promising students to get the most out of themselves. But studying isn’t the only way to grow. Students can also distinguish themselves by doing extracurricular activities, such as student board work, committee work, and internships. The UG should appreciate their efforts more and award higher committee grants, give out certificates to active students, and more options for flexible studying.
  2. Calimero: All students should have the opportunity to excel. The focus shouldn’t be on excellence, but on increasing students’ knowledge and qualities so they are properly prepared for the future. By providing everyone with the opportunity to create a broad, interdisciplinary basis, students can improve in the way that suits them best. Making programmes like the Honours College more accessible or providing more extracurricular courses would achieve this.
  3. DVS: Disagree. Everyone should be able to study in his own way and as he wants to. There should be possibilities to reward and stimulate excellent results, as long as there is enough attention for every student.
  4. Doughnut Party: No, the opportunity presented at the UG provides students prospects to challenge oneself and dive deeply into a subject one is passionate about.

4. To become a more sustainable university, the UG should end partnerships with large polluters, such as Shell and Gasterra.

  1. SOG: The UG has said it wants to be carbon neutral, implying it wants to do more to be sustainable. But working with big polluters like Shell and Gasterra is at odds with this goal. We feel that the principle of sustainability should be included in all aspects at the university in an effort to find a solution to future climate challenges. This means the university needs to stop working with corporations like Shell and Gasterra and contribute to a society free of fossil fuels.
  2. Calimero: The UG wants to contribute to the transition to sustainable energy. In light of this challenge, the transition to a sustainable society, we should strive to achieve a reduction in emissions, in order to reach the climate targets at the lowest cost possible. Therefore, our research should support corporations that are facilitating this transition. The university should stimulate corporations that stand by the following core principles: People, Planet, and Performance. Our operations should also focus on a circular economy. The UG should not contribute to large-scale pollution in any way. The university should continue this trend towards sustainability until the targets have been reached.
  3. DVS: Disagree. Sustainability is not achieved by locking yourself up in your study room, but by working together. It is exactly the partnerships with the industry that can lead to practical and innovative sustainability.
  4. Doughnut Party: A transition needs to be made towards facilitating partnerships with sustainable enterprises. However, immediate termination is unwarranted as it would disrupt how the UG manages the relationships it holds with current and future partners.

5. The UG should end her marketing campaign abroad.

  1. SOG: It’s crystal clear that Groningen has too many students. The UG is always extremely busy during exam periods and many faculties will have trouble organising on-campus classes for everyone next year. It’s also extremely difficult to find a room in the city, let alone an affordable one. The UG is only exacerbating the situation by attracting students from abroad with its marketing campaigns. These campaigns should be halted until the structural lack of capacity at the university has been solved.
  2. Calimero: This year, the number of students at the UG has increased to 36,000, and it looks as though there will be thousands more next year. There aren’t enough lecturers, classrooms, or study spaces available. The increase will lead to another housing crisis because there aren’t enough rooms. Small-scale, qualitative education is under intense pressure. One reason is the university’s international marketing. Over the past year, we’ve made sure that international marketing focused more on information, but as long as there is no room for all these students, these campaigns should be halted.
  3. DVS: Neutral. The UG has to flexibly adjust her marketing campaigns to the influx of students, as to avoid the university from flooding. If the influx of students if high, marketing should be decreased. If the influx of students is low, marketing should be increased.
  4. Doughnut Party: No, the University of Groningen should not end the marketing campaign abroad. As a Top 100 global university, a diverse talent pool helps the university grow and facilitate collaborations abroad. Leaving the door open for a multitude of different views ensures global insight and provides opportunities for broadening experiences within the UG.

6. Students have the responsibility to arrange their own housing. They should have their own room before their study commences.

  1. SOG: The university is inviting students to come to Groningen to study next year and has organised extensive national and international marketing campaigns to attract students. SOG feels it is therefore responsible for facilitating housing. Students have been let down because the UG created a marketing campaign that didn’t take the city’s capacity into consideration.
  2. Calimero: In an ideal situation, every student would have a room before coming here, and it is primarily their responsibility. But the university’s explosive growth means there aren’t enough rooms to accommodate all students. The university should take responsibility and work together with the city to ensure there are enough rooms. We can’t hold students responsible for finding a room before coming here when there simply aren’t enough rooms available. There should be enough rooms, but if that doesn’t work out, the university should supply shelter.
  3. DVS: Agree. The university is meant to provide research and education, not accommodation. That task is the responsibility of the municipality and housing corporations. De Vrije Student is proud of the pro-active role the UG plays in providing first-year accommodation and emergency housing.
  4. Doughnut Party: In lieu of the housing situation which occurred in 2018, students should receive assistance in arranging accommodation in the first year. Especially for students coming outside the Groningen area, this motion would facilitate the transition to life in Groningen and ensure options for accommodation can be found in the later years of their study.

7. The UG should focus on flexible studying, for example by experimenting with payment per study credit instead of per academic year.

  1. SOG: SOG is in favour of an active student life and the opportunity to grow outside your studies. We champion flexible studying, because it enables students to have more control over what their student life looks like. It also stimulates students to gain extracurricular experience through board work, for example. It also helps students who want or need to study less for personal reasons. Flexible studying gives students a more honest shot at studying because they don’t have to consider the financial implications of studying as much. We also feel that students who take extra courses outside their own programme should be allowed to do so for free.
  2. Calimero: Flexible studying could work for certain types of students, such as those with a handicap, students who are caregivers, or students who do things in addition to studying. But there is a drawback to this. Allowing students to be more flexible with their time and study speed could lead to an increase in the pressure to perform and allowing them more flexibility in picking courses could lead to diplomas losing their value. It would be better to tailor education to individual students, but this could lead to hyper-individuality. Maintaining the study community is essential to students’ motivation, social development, and their well-being. Flexible studying would definitely work for a certain group of students, but it should not become the norm.
  3. DVS: Agree. Individual freedom is the core value of De Vrije Student. You should be able to decide how you study, therefore also how many classes you take. The UG is a university, not a kindergarten.
  4. Doughnut Party: Flexible study should be available where the programme is tailored to allowing such flexibility (e.g. part-time). Otherwise, it may fragment the education process, where the issue of individuals enrolling for multitudes of years (greater than the general number of years to finish a programme) may cause issues down the line.

8. If the BSA is maintained, it should be improved in the following way:

  1. SOG: We are not principally opposed to the BSA. The current requirement of 45 ECTs in the first year is not unreasonable. In reality, most students pass the requirement. However, it’s important to allow for exceptional circumstances. While personal circumstances can lead to the BSA being relaxed, the rules are often too strict. The university should take circumstances that prevent motivated students from getting the required number of ECTS into account more.
  2. Calimero: If the BSA is maintained, we’d like to see it lowered by 10 ECTS. This year, we collected stories from five hundred students, which led to the BSA being lowered, a change we’d like to make permanent. 35 ECTS (50 for UCG and CF) is high enough to still stimulate students to work hard, but it also acknowledges the problems they’re facing, like stress and the pressure to perform. We also want to see a uniform policy whenever the BSA is lowered in an effort to combat differences between faculties and, in some cases, departments. It should also be easier for students to have their BSA lowered.
  3. DVS: De Vrije Student has a plan consisting of three steps:
    1. An advice is an advice, and should not be the Sword of Damocles. That’s why the UG should better inform their students on the possibilities they have if the do not meet the BSA requirements. A lot of students don’t make use of the leniency policies, which leads to unnecessary study delays.
    2. Equal treatment. It is incomprehensible that the BSA policy differs between different studies and different faculties. To ensure that equal cases are treated equally across all faculties, the central university board has to create a clear guideline for the BSA-committees at the faculties.
    3. More control leads to less stress. In the coming years the UG has to actively engage in lessening the work load for both staff and students. De Vrije Student wants students to be more in control over their studies by introducing a flexible form of studying. This will increase students’ possibilities to focus on their studies.
  4. Doughnut Party: Rather than using it as a method to deprive students of further education, it would be better used to tailor guidance to ensure a student is better able to maximise their opportunity at the UG. Following an education guidance meeting, a student should be able to outline one’s plan on how to improve oneself in the upcoming year. If the plan is not maintained by the student, then the decision whether a student continues with the programme is to be determined (e.g. were there signs of progress in the probationary period).

9. The UG must guarantee education to students who, for whatever reason, don't get vaccinated or tested for COVID-19.

  1. SOG: SOG wants to protect individuals’ right to choose. Even though we encourage everyone to get vaccinated, we feel students who choose not to shouldn’t be punished by being excluded from education. Exclusion is so drastic as to equal an indirect compulsory vaccination, and we feel the university should not be allowed to decide this. A large majority of students will be getting vaccinated, which means the few exceptions will not pose a danger to staff and students at the UG.
  2. Calimero: It’s important that the UG guarantees education to all its students. When students don’t get tested or vaccinated for whatever reason, but also if they can’t physically attend classes for health reasons, they should still be able to participate in education. We’ve made great strides in developing online education and digitisation in general, and we should make use of these innovations. On-campus education is the norm, but online education should be available for those who are unable to physically attend.
  3. DVS: Yes, the UG always has to provide a form of up to par education for these students. This may also be done in the form of digital education. That is why De Vrije Student wants to use a form of flexible studying through which all students can decide for themselves whether to follow a class online, or in class.
  4. Doughnut Party: The UG must place the safety and health of the student population as paramount, therefore education for students who do not get vaccinated nor tested for COVID19 should not be guaranteed. For the upcoming school year, where vaccination within the Netherlands should be completed, students who remain unvaccinated must have a valid medical reasoning behind it. In addition, as testing for COVID19 becomes more accessible (e.g. direct-to-consumer kits), it would be prudent to ensure students test negative if attending large lectures where one comes in contact with multitudes of students.

10. If they are organised properly, digital lectures are a fine replacement for physical lectures.

  1. SOG: Many students have said they’re happy with online lectures. For many of them, it’s a great addition to their programme. But students who want to, should still be able to attend lectures on campus. It would be unreasonable to only provide online classes to students whose programmes consist mainly of lectures. After all, they didn’t sign up to an online university. Digital lectures are a good addition, but they cannot replace on-campus lectures.
  2. Calimero: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. This past year, we’ve seen how much people miss on-campus classes. Many students are looking forward to going back to class and studying together. The progress we’ve made in digitisation is impressive, but it’s also become clear that online lectures will never be able to replace the real thing. On-campus lectures should remain the norm. However, we should make use of the new online opportunities to accommodate students who can’t attend in person.
  3. DVS: Neutral. Faculties and education committees have to decide for themselves whether they choose for digital or physical classes. They should decide this together with students. Staff and students are the ones who know what works best for their field of study and education.
  4. Doughnut Party: In combination with physical lectures, digital lectures have a place in the post-COVID19 education sphere. Physical lectures ensure direct communication with students and facilitate teaching through workshops and practicals, which are essential to a student’s learning experience over the course of a degree. That said, digital lectures provide the opportunity for international professors and lecturers to teach students at UG, providing students a broader opportunity to learn from and minimises the logistics of travel for the guest lecturer (if one chooses this option).