Organisation - May 10, 2016

‘Rather select students than evening classes’

Albert Sikkema

The Wageningen students do not want evening classes. This was revealed yesterday evening during the crowded discussion between more than 150 students and rector Arthur Mol.

The executive board of Wageningen UR sees the expansion of the lecture hours to the evenings as one of the three measures to deal with the growing number of students. The board is investing in distance learning, so that the university has to schedule less classes on campus. Furthermore, they want to use the available education facilities more efficiently, for example by checking if the scheduled education areas are actually used.

‘Evening classes are the least preferred measure to deal with the growing number of students, but we need this measure’, Mol explained. That is why he wants to start the new academic year with a pilot on distance learning. This pilot will need to show which type of evening classes best suit the students wishes.

Evening classes are the least preferred measure to deal with the growing number of students
Arthur Mol, rector of Wageningen University

But many of the students are already against the idea of evening classes and do not see it as a solution. ‘Two years ago I did not have to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to go to the library to find a seat’, Yufei Wang of the Student Council shared, ‘and back then there was no queue for the WUR-shop and enough space to park your bike. Now everyone suffers from the constant growth. Evening classes are not the best solution, the problem is that there are too many students.’ She pleaded for selection, to retain the quality and small scale of Wageningen education. Mol would rather not reject Wageningen Bachelor-students to continue a Master’s in Wageningen, but some of the students consider the selection for the Master’s negotiable.

Moreover, the students think that the scheduling of the classrooms can be improved, so that less rooms are vacant during the day. Moreover, they think that the university can use more buildings on the Dreijen for education and if necessary hire rooms of the Wageningen theatre for classes and realise temporary container classrooms. Also the university can spend less money on recruitment to reduce the growth, some students thought. There is money for an amphitheatre, a giro-banner and recruitment campaigns abroad, the students argued. If you stop with that, you save money and you limit the growth. 

Two years ago I did not have to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to go to the library to find a seat
Yufei Wang, member of the student council on behalf of S&I

Moreover, they distrust the pilot of Mol. According to the rector it is a test with about a thousand students to research the consequences of evening classes. Such as test suits a scientific organization, the rector thinks. But the students are afraid that the pilot is a first step to implementation. They pointed out the pilot with the implementation of career policy Tenure Track at the university, where the pilot yielded no results but the policy was still implemented. Can evening classes still be undone? Rector Mol swore: ‘I have not made a decision yet.’

The discussion was led by Job Cohen, chair of the Supervisory Board, who gave many students in the room the opportunity to share their opinion. A number of them were also searching for practical option to make the implementation of evening classes tolerable. For example, rumours are spreading that evening classes will not be mandatory and will be filmed on tape, in order for students to watch them at a later point in time. Moreover it was suggested to have evening classes on a specific evening, so that study, culture, and sport association can take this into account when planning their activities. These sorts of remarks are ‘taken along’ with the test for evening classes which should start in the coming academic year, Mol stated.

The student organization now have to decide if they agree with the explanation of Mol or perform actions of protest. A new meeting to vote will take place on the 19 May, when students have organised actions of protest against the evening classes.