The parties at Van Hall Larenstein do not trust each other and there is no common basis at the moment for a healthy educational organization.
Ten Have spoke to 25 people at the college over the last six weeks. ‘Those individuals were chosen by the board and Ten Have, plus others who came forward. We aimed to get the locations, job functions and opinions properly represented.' It broke down roughly as one third of the interviewees being in favour of further integration within Wageningen UR, one third against, and one third seeing both sides. ‘It shows just how much the perceptions vary', according to Vink.
‘In the second phase, Ten Have wants to look at how trust can be improved on all sides', says Vink. ‘It's all a bit uncomfortable at the moment, and split into camps. Ten Have wants to see if there's support for a common strategy, so that the staff can assist each other and let VHL put more energy into the education and the content of the work.' The report on the second phase will appear by the end of January at the latest.
One major stumbling block is the proposed change from a ‘federation of seven educational clusters, with seven bosses' to a single educational organization. Vink: ‘The question is: can those boundaries be broken down, and how? The idea is that the board and staff should formulate a common objective, but that won't work without trust and a collective approach.'
Meanwhile, the tension at the VHL sites in Velp and Leeuwarden has not gone away yet. One member of staff in Leeuwarden calls the presentation of Ten Have's initial findings ‘a source of misunderstandings'. ‘The fact that there's nothing on paper gives personal interpretation free rein. One person says we'll be starting from scratch again and working together, the next reckons Ten Have said that the core setup is basically okay, but that we'll have to remodel it a bit. This way of presenting things raises more questions than it answers.'
The staff member in Velp: ‘Nobody wants a conflict with the management, but we're getting nowhere in the meantime. We were told we could ask the board questions about the Ten Have report, but then you get no answers. Very frustrating.' Simon Vink: ‘That's the atmosphere right now. Which is why something must be done.'