Carina Nieuwenweg, a regular blogger on Resource, wonders whether the WUR-boat has become steer less. The S.A.W. already reported last month that the executive board has no vision and doesn’t take action due to an ‘uncertain future’. Leading without vision is also a form of politics. Short term thinking and no scenario sketching make that force will implement unpopular measurements because of time pressure of the capacity problems.
Last week the Student and Staff Council (SSC) conditionally disapproved the Extended Day Time schedule and the International Bachelors. The executive board has already responded that they don’t comply with a couple of conditions of the SSC*:
Concerning the twilight lecture schedule, the executive board doesn’t agree with two fixed common lunch breaks for study program clusters. Not only is this a disappointment for study associations, but especially organisations with mixed students will turn out to be the big losers without any common lunchbreaks e.g. sport associations, international groups, green organisations. Moreover the executive board is not willing to record all the twilight lectures (11th and 12th our 17:30-19:00).
Concerning the International Bachelors, the executive board won’t reduce international promotion or promotion trips. The say the money spent on promotion is not for recruitment, it is ‘to inform and match people to Wageningen’ for motivated students and lower drop-outs. Next, the board is not in line with the SSC that the problems in the master program will be exported to the bachelors. The SSC is especially concerned about the language proficiency, intercultural communication, well-being and education quality. Learning goals about content will suffer if the all conditions for international bachelors are not met.
The S.A.W. doesn’t understand why the executive board doesn’t postpone the proposal of international bachelors to 2020 when Dutch student numbers start to stabilise. Then there is proper time to adapt the study materials completely and to train the staff for English and multicultural bachelor courses. The challenge of the growing students number is already large enough now. International bachelors not only gives more tasks to overworked staff, but it also worsens the spike of growth for education facilities.
The big question is of course: What’s next? The SSC will reply to the first counterarguments of the executive board this week. The point is however that bigger discussion is still lacking: Money. Structurally technical universities don’t get enough funding and in particular, Wageningen is dealing with the 2% budgeting rule of the ministry of economic affairs. More funds should be urged to spend on more education facilities, otherwise we need to stop the promotion machine of the WUR.
It is the time that the executive board dares to take a leading role making the strategic plan tangible. Teachers say that the limit is soon and the QS rating shows that the WUR is not increasing in quality anymore. The WUR needs to play open and honest dialogue towards students, staff and send a strong message to the government. Our executive board can learn from what TU/Eindhoven is already doing.