Vote Green

A student has shared her views on the referendum with us by sending us a filled out voting form. We agree with her views and argumentation and therefore publish it here as a more elaborate voting advise; we advise green governance model for a self-organising university, the implementation of a charter and a broad senate.

SENATE

First, we would like your opinion of the idea of installing a ‘senate new style’.

Those who wish to read more about this topic will find a description of the purpose and composition of the ‘senate new style’ below the question. At the bottom of the page you will also find the “next” button.

  1. What is your opinion regarding the instalment of a ‘senate new style’?
  • Very negative
  • Negative
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Very positive
  • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

A broad senate will give us the opportunity to finally have a good discussion about the goal of our university. A senate can also guarantee the core values of our university in both centralized and decentralized policies.

Purpose and composition of the senate new style

The D&D committee proposes to install a ‘senate new style’: a representative forum designed to function as a critical ‘conscience’ and to safeguard the values on which policy and governance at the University of Amsterdam are based. The ‘senate new style’ will advise the university community and the governing board on a range of policy issues that concern the university as a whole.

Regarding the senate’s composition, the committee finds that this ‘senate new style’ should have seats for permanent academic staff (including full professors), temporary academic staff, students, PhD candidates, faculty deans, members of the Executive Board, and support staff. Preparatory work will involve broadly composed working groups and open consultation with the community.

The ‘senate new style’ should prevent discussions on the future of education and research at the UvA from being overdetermined by particular interests or by issues of the day instead of by valid arguments, broad discussion, and careful deliberation.

CHARTER

The following questions concern the proposal to establish a charter with a number of core values that underpin governance and policy at the University of Amsterdam.

You are asked here to assess a number of different core values that could be important for governance and policy at the University of Amsterdam. But first we would like to know what you think about the idea of a charter as the foundation of governance and policy at the University of Amsterdam, in principle.

For more information about this topic, see the explanatory note on the meaning and implications of a charter for the University of Amsterdam below the question. At the bottom of the page you will also find the ‘next’ button.

  1. How do you feel, in principle, about the idea of a charter as the foundation of governance and policy at the University of Amsterdam?
    • Very negative
    • Negative
    • Neutral
    • Positive
    • Very positive
    • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

A charter can ensure that centralized and decentralized management takes certain core values into account. These values include pluralism in academic perspectives, and general diversity policy.

The importance of the ‘Charter of the University of Amsterdam’

A charter provides an answer to the question: “What kind of organisation are you, what does this organisation stand for, and why is this valuable?” But also: “Do you see these values reflected in what the organisation does, and is this clear to others as well?” The charter lists the core values that underpin governance and policy. By anchoring these values in a charter, these values are no longer non-committal since the university explicitly commits to upholding them. In a rapidly changing world, with all the unavoidable tensions and problems that an organisation like the UvA faces, an orientation based on fundamental values is especially important.

<If the answer to question 3 is: very positive, positive, neutral or do not know, then go to: CORE VALUES A>

<If the answer to question 3 is: very negative, negative, then go to CORE VALUES B>

CORE VALUES A

The following questions are about the eight core values that could play an important role in governance and policy at the University of Amsterdam. For each of these questions we would like to know whether you think it should be included in the charter.

<the values will be presented in a random order>

The relationship between the university and society

  1. ‘University education and research are a public good and at the same time inextricably connected with critical distance and academic freedom.’

Do you think this value should be included in the UvA charter of core values?

  • Certainly not
  • Probably not
  • Probably yes
  • Certainly yes
  • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

Although it is important to understand and maintain ties with society, research should not be evaluated simply on its “usefulness” for producing a product or solving a particular problem. Academic education must take into account that a research field which does not seem directly useful at the moment might prove itself to be very fruitful in the future.

The dynamics of knowledge production

  1. ‘Scientific research at universities is aimed at the development and use of new scientific knowledge in a (trans)national context.’

Do you think this value should be included in the UvA charter of core values?

  • Certainly not
  • Probably not
  • Probably yes
  • Certainly yes
  • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

I’m not sure what they mean by this

Developing critical academic thinking

  1. ‘Fostering the capacity for critical thinking and academic reflection is one of the distinguishing features of an academic education, regardless of whether students are preparing for a career in science or elsewhere.’

Do you think this value should be included in the UvA charter of core values?

  • Certainly not
  • Probably not
  • Probably yes
  • Certainly yes
  • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

The critical scientific attitude, meaning among other things the ability to place processes in a wider context, is very important given our increasingly complex society. This attitude is not just about doing research by following the rules of a specific field, or about learning techniques that can immediately be put into practice. A critical attitude can contribute to a research field that does not dogmatically hold on to its past, but which instead allows room to develop various perspectives.

University community

  1. ‘The university is a community of academic staff, support staff, and students, in which arguments and mutual respect are more important than formal positions and hierarchy. This community should do justice to the differences among its members regarding their ambitions, cultural and intellectual background, and personal circumstances.’
  1. Do you think this value should be included in the UvA charter of core values?
  • Certainly not
  • Probably not
  • Probably yes
  • Certainly yes
  • Do not know, no opinion
  • If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

A climate of mutual respect and cooperation is conducive to research, studying, teaching, and working. Everyone can always learn from everyone else, and such an atmosphere can contribute to our development as people.

Decentralisation

  1. ‘The university’s organisation should be reduced to a minimal amount of governance levels, with responsibilities and authorities clearly distinguished at each level in order to enhance the autonomy and ownership of students and staff regarding their own working conditions.’

Do you think this value should be included in the UvA charter of core values?

  • Certainly not
  • Probably not
  • Probably yes
  • Certainly yes
  • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

People know best what works for themselves: how they can give shape to their work or studies, how they can transmit knowledge most effectively, how to administer their own work, how they learn most successfully. There should be a certain level of trust in the abilities of coworkers and students, as both are professionals in their own way.

Autonomy

  1. ‘Employees should be enabled as much as possible to organise their own activities, both independently and in consultation with their colleagues.’

Do you think this value should be included in the UvA charter of core values?

  • Certainly not
  • Probably not
  • Probably yes
  • Certainly yes
  • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

Academic staff are experts in their academic fields, and they know best how to teach the substance of their subject-area. Support staff are experts in their own areas, and therefore know best how to carry out their own tasks.

Co-determination

  1. ‘The representative councils for students and staff are designed for the purpose of determining, together with the board, collective and shared ambitions, and to develop together a coherent policy that corresponds to these ambitions.’

Do you think this value should be included in the UvA charter of core values?

  • Certainly not
  • Probably not
  • Probably yes
  • Certainly yes
  • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

Since students and staff are the ones who are the best at giving shape to their education, research, or other tasks, they should also be able to set policy. At the moment, students and staff are subjected to policies that are set in a top-down manner, which they have had no say in determining. They are made responsible for the execution of policies but not their formation, even though students and staff expertise can be much more effectively utilized.

Good governance

  1. ‘Whoever takes on an administrative function respects the specific character of the university and the freedom of staff and students to use public means for the benefit of education, research, and social services.

Do you think this value should be included in the UvA charter of core values?

  • Certainly not
  • Probably not
  • Probably yes
  • Certainly yes
  • Do not know, no opinion
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

Students and staff are more than capable of deciding how to do their work. Although mistakes can be made, giving people responsibility and decision-making power will allow them to actually learn from these mistakes.

CORE VALUES B ARE NOT FILLED IN

 

 

<If your answer to the previous question was YES: continue with question 38> <If your answer to the last question was NO: continue with question 39>

  1. Give a short description of the value(s) that you would like to add below. If you wish to add more than one question, please start with the most important one. Select ‘next’ once you are done.
  • Diversity of staff and students should be ensured, because this contributes to a broader academic perspective
  • Diversity of curriculums should be ensured, because this allows us to understand varying ideas and perspectives. In this manner the aforementioned “critical scientific attitude” can be maintained.

PRINCIPLES FOR DEMOCRATISATION AND DECENTRALISATION

The following questions are about the principles that are fundamental to the democratisation and decentralisation of the organisation and governance of the University of Amsterdam. Please choose your preferred principle for every question. The coloured dots refer to the four models for governance and organisation that have been designed by the committee. Each answer refers to one or several of the models.

The four models are presented briefly below. Click ‘next’ at the bottom of the page to continue.

The blue model

  • The current situation: Administrators take decisions. Workers and student councils at the university and faculty level have limited advisory and corrective functions (the right to advise and the right to consent).
  • Faculties have separate organisations for education, research and staff. There are no formal representative councils within these decentral units. They are managed by administrators appointed by the dean.

The orange dual model

  • Administrators take decisions. Workers and student councils at the university and faculty level have a strong corrective role. Aside from the right to advise and the right to consent, they also have the right of initiative and the right of amendment.
  • Faculties have separate organisations for education, research and staff, with administrators appointed by the dean. Within these units some kind of representative body will be installed.

The yellow participatory model

  • Councils composed of staff and students determine policy at the central and faculty level. An elected executive board prepares and implements policy.
  • Within faculties, the responsibility for education, research, finances and personnel lies primarily with decentralised units at discipline level. These are governed by the joint councils composed of students and staff, which also elect the daily executive board.

The green self-organising model

  • Councils composed of staff and students determine policy at the central and faculty level. An elected executive board prepares and implements policy.
  • Within faculties, the responsibility for education, research, finances and personnel lies primarily with decentralised units at discipline level. Students and staff have the opportunity to design the organisation and governance of these units themselves.
  • Within four years a decision will be made on the desirability of maintaining governance at the faculty level, based on evaluations.

<For each of these topics, the options – but not the questions – are presented in random order. The last two options below will always be mentioned last.>

The following questions concern six themes:

  1. Governance at the central level
  2. Governance at the faculty level
  3. Governance at a decentral level (currently: education, research institutes, departments)
  4. Organisation within the faculty
  5. Openness of and participation in governance
  6. Maintaining the current faculties
  1. What is your preference concerning UvA governance at the central level?
  • An Executive Board, appointed by the Supervisory Board, is responsible for policy. The central workers and student councils have limited rights of advice and consent and cannot initiate new policies
  • An Executive Board, appointed by the Supervisory Board, is responsible for policy. The central workers and student councils will have more authority, as well as the right to amend decisions and the right to initiate new policies
  • An elected university council, composed of students and staff, determines the policy of the university. The Executive Board is accountable to this council. Board members are appointed by the university council
  • I do not have an opinion on this
  • I am against all of the options above
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

Students and staff are the ones who are the best at giving shape to their education, research, or other tasks. Therefore it makes sense that students and staff should be able to decide on policy, instead of leaving it to a group of managers who are appointed by obscure decision-making bodies, and who are only responsible to these obscure bodies.

  1. What is your preference concerning UvA governance at the faculty level?
  • A dean, appointed by the Executive Board, is responsible for policy. The workers and student councils have limited rights of advice and consent but cannot initiate new policies
  • A dean, appointed by the Executive Board, is responsible for policy. Every faculty has a workers’ and a student council and these councils will have extended powers. They will also gain the right of amendment, which allows them to propose changes to policies
  • A faculty council composed of students and staff determines faculty policy. The council is elected by students and staff members. The dean is accountable to the council; the council elects the dean
  • I do not have an opinion on this
  • I am against all of the options above
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below

Since students and staff are the ones who are experts in what they have to do, they should be able to decide how these tasks are managed. Deans should therefore take on a subordinate, facilitating role.

 

  1. What is your preference concerning governance at a decentral level?
  • Department chairs and directors of education institutes (the current colleges and graduate schools) and research institutes are appointed by the dean. They can be held accountable by the faculty’s representative councils through the deans.There are no formal representative bodies within these institutes and departments
  • Department chairs and directors of education and research institutes are appointed by the dean. Departments and education and research institutes will have their own representative bodies
  • Decentralised units at the discipline level are integrally responsible for education, personnel and finances. There is an elected governance council composed of staff and students. These will prepare and implement policy
  • Staff and students will be given the opportunity to design governance and organisation for the decentralised units, which are responsible for education, research, personnel and finances within a certain discipline, themselves 
  • I do not have an opinion on this
  • I am against all of the options above
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

Students and staff know best how they want to study, work, and do research. Giving them the opportunity to give shape to these tasks themselves with improve the quality of the education, work, and research, because people will feel like they have ownership over their own academic lives.

  1. What is your preference concerning organisation at a decentral level within the faculties?
  • Faculties consisting of separate departments, colleges, schools and research institutes.
  • Faculties consisting of independent decentral units per discipline which are integrally responsible for education, research, finances and personnel.
  • I do not have an opinion on this
  • I am against all of the options above
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

Every academic field uses a different form of education, organization, and research. Although overlap does exist, and interdisciplinary initiatives should be given room to flourish, students and staff know best what is necessary for their particular field. When the form of teaching is set by centralized organs, this also affects the content of what is taught. When there is friction between the form of teaching enforced from higher up and the necessities of a given field, this can damage the quality of education.

  1. What is your preference concerning the openness of and participation in governance and policy at the UvA?
  • Access to information prior to and following decisions taken in meetings with the workers and student councils should be improved
  • The representativeness of the councils and representative bodies should be improved significantly in order to ensure more transparency and opportunities for participation, for instance through the introduction of online platforms that stimulate discussion, meetings for discussion, meeting for decision making, and themed conferences
  • I do not have an opinion on this
  • I am against all of the options above
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

At the moment, managers are often difficult to reach, and the responsibilities and opportunities to participate are unclear. Students and staff therefore feel less involved in policy-making, and this impacts the quality of management.

  1. What is your preference concerning the continuation and organisation of the faculties?
    • Maintain the current division into faculties
  • Evaluate the purpose and necessity of maintaining the faculty level every four years
  • I do not have an opinion on this
  • I am against all of the options above

 

  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below.

I’m unsure as to what this would entail, but if this is done by the people involved and not by managers – meaning if the green model is implemented – this evaluation could be a good idea. 

 

GOVERNANCE MODELS

The Democratisation and Decentralisation committee has distinguished four models of governance and organisation. These models are the result of a combination of the principles from the previous question.

You will find descriptions of the different models for governance and organisation below the question. The ‘next’ button can be found at the bottom of the page.

  1. You can now state your opinion on the four governance models themselves. Which model do you prefer most? Click on this model. Arrange the models in an order from the one you prefer most to the one you prefer least.

The option you click on first will be number 1 in your ranking. If you click on a selected option it will disappear from the list. You do not have to rank all the options.

  • The blue model
  • The orange dual model (3)
  • The yellow participatory model (2)
  • The green self-organising model (1)
  • I do not have an opinion on this
  • I am against all of the options above
  1. If you wish, you can elaborate on your answer below:

In accordance to what I have indicated previously, I believe students and staff are more than capable of deciding what is important for the work, research, or study they do. They should therefore have the opportunity to give shape to this work together, because the form does definitely have impact on the content. People can make well-informed decisions, and when mistakes are made these can be learned from and overcome. Doing this at a small scale will make involvement in policy-making easier, which will in turn make these policies more responsive to the actual necessities of those involved. Furthermore, it will lessen the impact of mistakes, as these can be noticed and flexibly evaluated on time, and will not require large-scale reorganizations.

Four models for governance and organisation

The blue model

  • The current situation. Administrators take decisions. Workers and student councils at the university and faculty level have limited advisory and corrective functions (the right to advise and the right to consent).
  • Faculties have separate organisations for education, research and staff. There are no formal representative councils within these decentral units. They are managed by administrators appointed by the dean.

The orange dual model

  • Administrators take decisions. Workers and student councils at the university and faculty level have a strong corrective role. Along with the right to advise and the right to consent, they also have the right of initiative and the right of amendment.
  • Faculties have separate organisations for education, research and staff, with administrators appointed by the dean. Within these units some kind of representative body will be installed.

The yellow participatory model

  • Councils composed of staff and students determine policy at the central and faculty level. An elected executive board prepares and implements policy.
  • Within faculties, the responsibility for education, research, finances and personnel lies primarily with decentralised units at the discipline level. These are governed by the joint councils composed of students and staff, which also elect the daily executive board.

The green self-organising model

  • Councils composed of staff and students determine policy at both central and faculty level. An elected executive board prepares and implements policy.
  • Within faculties, the responsibility for education, research, finances and personnel lies primarily with decentralised units at discipline level. Students and staff have the opportunity to design the organisation and governance of these units themselves.
  • Within four years a decision will be made on the desirability of maintaining the faculty level, based on evaluations.
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