5 March 2020

The third meeting of the University Council 2019-2020 with the Executive Board

On February 13th, the University Council had his third meeting of the academic year with the Executive Board.

Council criticizes UU-NIOZ collaboration

Since 2016, Utrecht University has been working together with the Dutch Institute for Maritime Research (NIOZ). Annually, Utrecht University grants NIOZ 2.4 million euros for joint research projects. In exchange for this financial support, NIOZ mentions Utrecht University on any paper or study it publishes and both institutions collaborate closely in both education and research. In late 2019, an elaborate evaluation was drawn up, which has been discussed in both the education & research committee (OOS) and the Council meeting. The evaluation showed mixed results.

The University Council is very critical on the exact utilization of the financial means and the fact that those financial resources have been regarded as ‘free spendable money’ by NIOZ-researchers. Another concern of the Council is that six PhD-candidates from other universities have been paid for with Utrecht University money.

On many of the addressed issues, the Board of Executives promised to do better. A new program committee will be set up for more control over the financial resources given to NIOZ by Utrecht University. Of course, the University Council will continue to monitor this collaboration closely.

Policy framework student organizations approved

In its meeting with the Executive Board on 13 February, the University Council decided to unanimously vote in favour of the new policy framework for student organizations. The vote was postponed because the Council wanted to further investigate the strict enforcement of the 80/20-clause during the latest review. Although this discussion is still taking place, the Council recognizes the importance of giving the student organizations certainty about the next review.

The first concrete change in the new framework is the following: the code of conduct for student organizations has become an advisory guide. This implies that student organizations are not required to follow it, nor are they obliged to sign this document. Secondly, the rule that student organizations need to have at least 80% Utrecht students among their members in order to apply to grants has been changed. Now, student organizations need at least 75% Utrecht students to receive grants and at least 70% to be formally recognized as a student organization and to be able to use facilities. At last, a new cluster was formed, termed as “other”, for those student organizations that do not fit within the existing clusters.

The University Council discusses first ambitions of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025

The rough outline of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025 of Utrecht University was discussed with the Executive Board. In this outline, the mission and vision of the university is described, as well as the challenges our university faces, such as globalisation, digitalisation, open science and flexibility. It also contains the ambitions that the board wishes to continue and the newly formulated ambitions. The first reaction of the Council considering these ambitions was positive, but at the same time they wonder how ambitious these new plans really are.

Apart from that, the Council queried the aim to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals in education, research and business operations. The Council also referred to the input it had previously sent to the Executive Board with regards to the Strategic Plan. During the coming months, the University Council will discuss the progress of the Strategic Plan with the Executive Board. In June 2020, the Council will vote on the new plan.

Currently, feedback on the plan formulated by students and staff is also being collected. All students and staff are welcome to participate in meetings or online consultations.