Organisation - May 24, 2016

PhD students in WUR-council elected for the first time

Text:
Didi de Vries,Rob Ramaker

For the first time Wageningen PhD students may choose their own representatives in the WUR-council. Three candidates signed up for the two positions.

All Wageningen PhD students, with contract and with a scholarship, may vote digitally from the 23rd to the 30th May – simultaneously with student council elections.  Since 2014 the PhD students have two seats in the WUR-council. In the past years as many candidates signed up as there were seats, so there was nothing to vote.

Who can the PhD students actually vote for.

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Tjitske Geertsema

Student in Soil, Water and Atmosphere. After her graduation she worked as research assistant on a project in Borneo Indonesia. She is currently performing her PhD at the Hydrology and Qualitative Water Management group. Flamenco dancing is her great passion. Additionally Tjiske enjoys jogging, biking and sailing.

What is the most important thing you will address in the council?

‘Four years is too short to do a full PhD. Besides research PhD students also have to fulfil other roles, such as substitute-teach courses and surveillance exams. It is difficult to say no to those tasks. The pressure for time on research is thus really high. It is normal for a PhD student to take longer, and the PhD students are required to pay for their own delay.

‘Additionally I want to address the fact that external PhD students have no social security unlike PhD students with a contract at the Wageningen UR. They have a scholarship to perform research, but do not have a contract in which they can for example build up retirement or  are not entitled for paid sick leave.’

Why will the board of directors listen to you?

‘We have the same goal. And with my issues I show that we stand behind these goals together.’

What makes you a suitable candidate?

‘I have a strong vision about the things I want to achieve. During my education in Wageningen I was involved in the education commission. My strategy is to attract attention by spreading flyers and actively going to PhD students to ask what they want. The most important thing is that the PhD students vote. They have an important role within the university research and they need to be heard.’

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Guido Camps

Completed three Bachelors and two Masters. Among others he did a Masters in veterinary medicine and cognitive psychology. He is doing is PhD at the chair group for Human Nutrition. One evening a week he still works as a veterinarian.

What is the most important thing you will address in the council?

‘I see a problem with the position of PhD students. The university receives money from the government with which a PhD student will complete his or her research. The average time for a PhD is 4 years, but in the Netherlands a PhD student takes 4,5 years on average to complete it. On  average this means half a year of unpaid work. Besides this there is also too little coaching for PhD students to decide what to do after their promotion.’

‘The second thing I want to put forward is that the organisation within the university is sometimes inimitable for external people. The room numbers for example. The best way to find out where a room is, is by google searching it and hoping that somebody has written something about it. The structure is not clear. This is the charm of Wageningen University but this is not clear for new people.’

Why will the board of directors listen to you?

I have worked as an assistant in the European Parliament, thus I have experience in politics. Therefore, I know how to ask incisive questions, to which people listen to.’

What makes you a suitable candidate?

My interest goes to management and policy. In general PhD students do not dare to speak out for themselves, so I want to do this. I do not see the position in the Council as an opportunity to learn or gain experience, but as a position in which I can achieve something. With my political experience I can immediately address the issues. My strategy is to have a low barrier so that students can easily approach me.

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Ali Ammari 

Studied energy processes at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden. He is performing his PhD at the Food Process Engineering group. Ali is from Iran. He is an avid outdoor sportsman and enjoys biking through the Netherlands.

What is the most important thing you will address in the council?

‘Last year there was a discussion ongoing about whether to make PhD assessments publicly available. Currently it is even difficult for PhD candidates to receive verbal or written explanation on their grade. This needs to change.’

‘A second issue is that the university is not furnished appropriately for people with a physical disability. Such as the automatic doors or the number of toilets for disabled people.  This is because there is no policy for this within the University. I also believe that it is important that chairs are reserved in the Council for international students.’

Why will the board of directors listen to you?

‘The members of the WUR-council have rights and responsibilities that I want to take upon me. In theory the board of directs does not need to listen. Together with the others in the council we can address important issues, and thus we will still be heard.’

What makes you a suitable candidate?

‘I have experience working in five different universities and institutes in three countries. I am fascinated by how employees are exposed to different approaches of education, research and well-being of employees. In the past year I was already in the Council, so I know what awaits me and how I must address discussions and issues of PhD students.’


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