Nieuws - 7 februari 2008

Dijkhuizen ‘deeply disappointed’ at council plan

President of the Executive Board Aalt Dijkhuizen hasn’t a good word to say about the proposal to simplify the representative advisory council structure of Wageningen UR submitted by the four participatory bodies. He says the plan does not improve the current situation. ‘Almost nothing has changed.’

In the councils’ draft proposal, the role of central representative advisory council is more prominent, but the other three councils do not disappear. The Student Council and the joint representative councils of the university and VHL would each send a delegation to the new central representative advisory council. The new central body would also take over a number of the powers of the three ‘lower’ councils, and the heads of the four councils would meet more often to avoid subjects being discussed by several councils. ‘But they can do that already,’ said Dijkhuizen. ‘We don’t need this proposal for that. It just makes the already extremely complicated representative structure even more opaque and bureaucratic.’

A workgroup advised last year that one representative advisory council be formed. ‘A good idea, which we supported wholeheartedly,’ says Dijkhuizen.
‘But the other council members didn’t agree. The new proposal will only lead to more bureaucracy and won’t achieve the objective of making representation more transparent, efficient and cheaper.’

In his response to the plan, Dijkhuizen has told the representative councils that he intends to make cuts in the council members’ stipends. At present these are based on the number of hours that members devote to council work. ‘But they spend longer in meetings each year, while the rest of the organisation has managed to make 25 percent reductions in overheads, and the research institutes have also made big cuts. We have informed the representative councils that we are going back to the basic legal reimbursement, and I hope they will find other ways of saving.’

Wiebe Aans, chair of the GV, is surprised at Dijkhuizen’s reaction. ‘It’s not so that nothing has changed. We propose that an agenda committee decides which council deals with which topic. This way one subject won’t be discussed by several councils. In our proposal there would be six fewer people in the council than at present.’ Aans hopes to be able to convince the Executive Board of the advantages of the proposal in a meeting.

Dijkhuizen has also drawn up a new schedule so all meetings are held on one afternoon. The Executive Board is prepared to spend more time on the Student Council. ‘There are new students each year who need to learn how things work. The learning aspect is important.’