The student council has flexed its muscles for the first time in a long while. The students rejected a proposal by the executive board to make changes to the minor system. The university will have to go back to the drawing board.
Students and the university have a fundamental difference of opinion on how a minor should be put together. The university would prefer to see students making use of their scope for elective courses by opting for one of the standard packages approved by the examinations committees. Administration-wise, this is easy, and it guarantees the coherence and depth of the minors.
The student council, however, insists that students should continue to be free to put together their own minor. That enables them to dovetail their degree programme as closely as possible to their career ambitions. The title of a minor of this sort should then of course be detailed on their degree certificates, and this is exactly where the students part company with the university: from September 2014, the board only wants to see ‘official’ minors specified on degree certificates.
The student council is standing its ground. The students understand the concerns about quality, but restricting students’ freedom of choice is the wrong way to go about it, says Simone Ritzer (VeSte). ‘The current, standard minors do not adequately meet students’ needs. Sometimes, for instance, they do not tie in with a student’s prior knowledge. The individual minor gives students the perfect opportunity to choose courses that match their personal ambitions and preferences. This will help them stand out from other jobseekers later on.’
The measure may also lead to students taking longer to graduate. Simone: ‘The university’s proposal is impossible to timetable. Ten of the twenty programmes run compulsory courses during the minor period. That could lead to your needing an extension, with all the expenses that entails. The alternative is a tailormade minor, but without specification on the degree certificate. Both options are un-acceptable to the student council.’
The student council does want to help think through a solution to the minor problem. Its proposal is to analyse the choice of minors so that the range of standard minors offered meets the demand. Stu-dent counsellors from the various programmes could also provide better guidance and information on the existing minors, so that these are opted for more often. In turn, the university has announced that the student council’s concerns will be addressed, and solutions to the timetabling problems will be sought.
This is the first time in a long while that the student council has rejected a proposal by the executive board. Simone: ‘It is nice that we can now show that we do step on the brakes if the quality of students’ education is at stake.’