Point 01: Investing in and strengthening participation in decision-making

Greater involvement in appointments, earlier consultation regarding policy development and the appointment of a student assessor are examples of the way participation in decision making at the UvA has been strengthened.

Influence over appointments

In July 2015, the UvA-AUAS Supervisory Boards decided to extensively involve the representative advisory bodies in the procedures for appointing new chairs of the UvA-AUAS Executive Board and new UvA Rector Magnificus. The basic profiles have been formulated in consultation with the representative advisory bodies, and the representative advisory bodies were also involved in the candidate-selection committees. As part of the procedure, meetings were held with the representative advisory bodies to gauge the level of support. The UvA and AUAS’s representative advisory councils have never before been so closely involved in the appointment of new members of the Executive Board.

The representative advisory bodies are also involved in the ongoing selection procedure for the Executive Board member responsible for finance (the successor of Hans Amman), with meetings being held with the representative advisory bodies as part of this procedure.

The influence gained by the representative advisory councils over the appointment of Executive Board members is not merely practical, it also has a legal basis. In the new Enhanced Governance Powers (Educational Institutions) Act (Wet versterking bestuurskracht onderwijsinstellingen) it has been determined that as of 1 January 2017, the representative advisory bodies will have the right to be consulted on the profiles, the appointment, and the dismissal of Executive Board members. This right to be consulted will be recorded in UvA’s Management and Administration Regulations.

In the recent past, five faculties (the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Humanities, AMC-UvA, the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences and the Faculty of Science) have appointed a new dean. Different appointment procedures were designed in consultation with the faculties in question. All of these faculties closely involved their representative advisory bodies in the appointment process, e.g. via representation in the Appointments Committee and/or via meetings. Within two faculties – the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science – a public debate with the candidate was conducted prior to their appointment.  

At the start of 2017, the basic profile of the new function of Diversity Officer was presented to the representative advisory bodies for advice. The Appointments Committee consists of members representing the Central Works Council (COR), the Central Student Council (CSR) and the UvA Diversity Forum (previously known as the contact group). In due course, the faculties will also formulate a diversity policy and an action plan.

Reinforcement of the Central Works Council

Since 1 July 2015, the Regulations governing the representative advisory bodies’ participation in decision-making have been relaxed for members of the Central Works Council. Amongst other matters, this concerns increasing the percentage of working hours that members of the Central Works Council are permitted to spend on COR duties. At the start of 2017, it was agreed to extend this relaxation period until the summer. 

The Executive Board now engages the Central Works Council at an earlier stage in various policy processes. For example, regular informal discussions are conducted regarding the HR agenda, the budget and various other subjects.

Reinforcement of the Central Student Council

The Executive Board and the Central Student Council maintain intensive contact on a substantial number of issues. Recent examples include the budget, blended learning, flexible study, reinforcement of the Boards of Study and evaluation of the Study Success programme. Central Student Council members participate in committees governing a wide range of matters.

To increase turnout at the annual student-council elections, a vote match was produced on the initiative of the Central Student Council and facilitated by the Communications Office. This vote match was used for the first time in 2016, and it will also be used for the 2017 elections.

In addition, the Central Student Council received support with its communications on the advisory referendum of the Democratisation & Decentralisation committee. One issue that remains a point of discussion is the Central Student Council’s request for a greater communications budget for such matters as the translation of their communication into English.

Joint Meeting of the representative advisory bodies

Currently, both the chair of the Executive Board and the Rector Magnificus are always in attendance at the Joint Meeting. Regular consultation between members of the Joint Meeting and the Executive Board is also conducted outside the Joint Meeting. 

Student assessor 

Since September 2015, a student assessor has been participating in the deliberations on central UvA policy, with a focus on educational and student issues. The student assessor will attend Executive Board meetings, advise the Executive Board and include items on the administrative agenda. The student assessor’s contribution is seen as an important factor in decision making, and both the Board and the Central Student Council gave positive evaluations. By liaising with students within and outside the representative advisory bodies, the student assessor will serve as a central point of contact between the university’s administrators and the student community. 

Lianne Schmidt was appointed as the first student assessor in September 2015. Partly on the advice of the Central Student Council, the Executive Board decided to extend her appointment until 1 January 2017. She has since been succeeded by Linda van Exter. The candidate-selection committee comprised members of the Central Student Council, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Boards. 

Influence over review of the allocation model

In 2016, a joint action plan was implemented by the Executive Board and the representative advisory bodies with regard to the allocation model. The goal of this was to initiate a wide-ranging academic discussion. Employees and students could submit ideas for better distribution of the government funding that the UvA receives each year, and a total of 150 people participated in the discussion and/or contributed ideas. A working group of technical experts assessed the submitted ideas and formulated a proposal based on all of these suggestions. In addition, a sounding-board group comprising representatives from the faculties and the representative advisory bodies was set up as a sparring partner for the working group. 

On 25 October 2016 the working group presented its proposal to the Executive Board. The Executive Board and the deans have studied the proposal and agree with the basic principles, although a number of aspects are still being elaborated further. The expectation is that the new distribution of (budget-neutral) government funding will be implemented into the framework letter for the 2018 budget. The proposed Executive Board decision will first be presented to the Joint Meeting. 

Published by  University of Amsterdam

14 March 2017