2.1 All lectures online available
Students who want to develop as much as possible inside and outside their studies should be supported by the university. A very easy way to do this is to record all lectures and make them available online. After all, the equipment is already sufficiently available. In this way, students can easily look back on lectures, also from other studies. This has many advantages: it gives students the opportunity to organize their student life in a more flexible way around voluntary work, board positions and side jobs; it gives studious students the opportunity to delve into subjects outside their curriculum; students can look back on lectures if they have not fully understood certain things at once and by giving each student the opportunity to take a good look at the material, working groups can become more ambitious in which they can go deeper into the material instead of the material repeat from the lectures.
If placing lectures online results in a lower attendance, this still has its advantages: students who are present are really motivated to commit themselves during the lecture. This creates space for interaction, asking questions and makes education more personal.
Research at the University of Amsterdam therefore shows that online lectures lead to higher success rates and more motivated students. In short, online lectures are beneficial for students, lecturers and the university. Since the corona crisis has shown that online education is possible for the lion's share of the teachers, De Vrije Student is not concerned about the feasibility of this plan. We are therefore committed to ensuring that Utrecht University makes all its lectures available online to all students.
2.2 A digital university
Quality and innovation are of paramount importance at De Vrije Student. There are many opportunities for the university in the digital world. That is why De Vrije Student aims to ensure that the university grows with its times by making the most of these opportunities. In the corona crisis, Utrecht University had to switch quickly to digital, innovative ways of teaching. The knowledge that we have acquired and will gain during this period, both stumbling blocks and success stories, must be bundled and used in the future. After all, extensive digitization is inevitable in the future. Of course, this crisis has also made us understand the added value of physical education. In physical lectures, discussions go more smoothly, there is more room for flexibility and it is also just more fun and fun.
That is why De Vrije Student advocates cherishing physical education and also making the most of the benefits of digital support. Physical education provides a foundation for every student. Digital education can expand this common foundation with clarifying resources, in-depth options and insight-providing gamification. Digital education can also offer students access to international networks, lecturers and innovative fields.
For example, knowledge clips, videos in which a teacher succinctly explains an understanding or a theory, and other online tools such as modules can be an excellent addition to current education. In this way, students can acquire the basic knowledge and theories prior to a lecture or working group, which gives room for more interaction, deepening and broadening during the lectures and working groups. Concepts are not explained, but discussed, deepened and broadened. This greatly improves the quality of education and involvement. An additional advantage is that these knowledge clips last a long time. De Vrije Student does want these knowledge clips to be of sufficient quality.
Educate-it, the UU taskforce for digitizing education, also plays a vital role in this. De Vrije Student wants lecturers to make more use of interactive methods and advocates making more resources available to Educate-it to achieve these goals.
Interactive means include programs such as Mentimeter. These resources involve students through gamification in their own education and facilitate substantive discussions about the subject matter.
Luckily, Educate-It already offers several courses and workshops, but not all teachers have found them yet. The Free Student therefore also pleads for greater awareness of the Educate-It programs.
In addition to expanding its own offering, UU can also use existing programs such as Coursera or EdX, where students are given the opportunity to take courses from top universities such as Harvard. For example, there are various innovative ways of digital educational innovation that offer many opportunities for Utrecht University. These programs not only broaden but also give students the opportunity to view their education from an international perspective.
The Free Student completes the picture by expanding the Skillslab with a panel of academics who share their knowledge about cross-curricular skills through knowledge clips and e-learning modules. Skills such as writing scientific papers and (master) theses, mastering academic Dutch and English, welfare and planning skills, communication techniques, statistics and presentation skills should be as accessible as possible for every modern student.
2.3 Good digital facilities
The world is becoming increasingly digital. It is important that Utrecht University grows along with this. Much is currently being organized digitally, only this takes place in a jungle of websites that students should use: Osiris, Blackboard, the MyUU app, UU-Gmail, UU-outlook365, MyTimetable, Course planner, the student site and another range of other websites. De Vrije Student wants all this to be reduced to one personalized digital learning path, with an accompanying app, where students can arrange what they want and have access to everything they need, anywhere and at any time.
Students are often forced to purchase an expensive paper reader, while an online reader on a laptop or tablet may also suffice. De Vrije Student therefore wants readers to become available online, in order to prevent paper waste and to save tens of euros for studying. Of course, studying via a screen does not work for everyone, which is why students still have the freedom to print the reader on a UU printer for a considerably lower price.
All digital options offered by Utrecht University largely depend on the WiFi connection within all buildings of the university. The Free Student therefore advocates that the WiFi connection is good in all buildings and that regular checks and, where necessary, improvements are carried out regarding the quality of the WiFi connection in all buildings in order to achieve this. Furthermore, sufficient well-functioning equipment should be present in all buildings, such as printers and computers.
2.4 (Inter) national cooperation
Cooperation between different universities is important for quality education. De Vrije Student is therefore delighted with the alliance between Utrecht University, UMC Utrecht, TU Eindhoven and Wageningen University & Research that started in 2020. Such partnerships offer many opportunities to broaden and deepen education and research. De Vrije Student therefore considers it important that, outside of this alliance, Utrecht University facilitates and stimulates the exchange of students, teachers and knowledge at both national and international level and that Utrecht University actively invokes and maintains partnerships with other universities. De Vrije Student will continue to critically monitor the financing of such collaborative projects, because this has sometimes gone wrong in the past.
2.5 Caracal evaluations publicly available
De Vrije Student argues that the results of the caracal evaluations can be viewed by everyone at Utrecht University. Having insight into the caracal evaluations can help students choose and prepare for a new course, encourage lecturers to do something with the evaluations and help the university to address bottlenecks within programs and the university as an organ.