FOR THE FREE STUDENT
De Vrije Student believes that students should be given the opportunity to develop themselves to the maximum during their studies. It is therefore important that the university facilitates this, both inside and outside the study. Think of the possibility of flexible study, no hindering resits or unnecessary attendance, freedom of choice in education and a university that respects your privacy at all times.
1.1 Flexible study possible anywhere
One way to facilitate development outside of the study is flexible learning. "Flex studying" means that students can choose to pay per course. Removing the financial burden of having to pay more than 2,000 euros a year to take a few courses gives students the freedom to enrich their student life by gaining board experience alongside their studies, starting their own business or start an extra study. This also gives students the opportunity to help others by providing informal care or volunteering alongside their studies. In this way, the strait-jacket system of nominal study does not get in the way of the ambitions of these students, who even perform better than average due to flexible learning.
That is why De Vrije Student has been advocating flexible learning since its foundation in 2015. In 2019, Utrecht University started a pilot for flexible learning for a select group of students, and this pilot will be rolled out further in 2020. De Vrije Student argues in favor of expanding this pilot as much as possible and will aim to ensure that flexible learning will eventually be possible across the entire breadth of Utrecht University as soon as it has become a permanent part of the Higher Education Act.
Logically, it is not the intention that the option of flexible learning makes education more expensive for other students. Flexible study should remain a voluntary choice. That is why De Vrije Student will also advocate retaining a statutory tuition fee for a standard academic year.
1.2 Fair resits arrangements
Every student should be given the opportunity to get the most out of themselves. However, students are also people and at times it is impossible to give the maximum. It is therefore important that the university shows understanding for this through fair resit arrangements. This is the case at many Dutch universities, but currently not at Utrecht University. This gives students at UU an unnecessary disadvantage compared to students at other universities. That is why De Vrije Student has been arguing for fair resit arrangements since she joined the council.
Resit arrangements differ per study program and for some study programs a resit may not even exceed 6. In addition, in the year 2017-2018, when De Vrije Student did not yet have a seat on the university council, the new central resit scheme was approved. It has thus been established that retake of sufficient grades is prohibited throughout the UU. De Vrije Student thinks this is incomprehensible and will make every effort to abolish these patronizing schemes.
Transcripts are essential in some sectors or for qualifying for a PhD and such strict resit arrangements create an unnecessary disadvantage for UU alumni in the labor market compared to alumni from other universities. In addition, exams should revolve around the student demonstrating that he has taken the course material and associated skills. If this turns out to be the case after a second attempt, why would you still want to put it on a low score? The university must motivate and encourage students and show that mistakes are there to learn from, rather than punishing students for making mistakes. De Vrije Student will therefore continue to argue in favor of the abolition of restrictive and patronizing resit schemes.
1.3 No attendance requirement for lectures
The university's task is to facilitate students as much as possible in their studies. Furthermore, as far as De Vrije Student is concerned, it should be up to the student to make trade-offs and choices. After all, later in life you will not be taken up in every decision you have to make. Low attendance rates is one of the reasons that have been put forward for making lectures compulsory at Utrecht University. Low turnout percentages, on the other hand, should give rise to reflection on the added value and quality of the college in question.
That is why De Vrije Student is against the obligation to attend lectures and has also heard this: in 2018-2019, on the initiative of De Vrije Student, the University Council wrote a proposal to cancel the attendance requirement for lectures. In 2019-2020, De Vrije Student indicated a follow-up here by once again indicating to the Executive Board the undesirability of an attendance requirement. The vice-deans of education meanwhile endorse the undesirability of attendance at lectures, but nevertheless there are still too many compulsory lectures. De Vrije Student will continue to point out the undesirability of compulsory lectures.
1.4 Freedom of choice in education
Flexibilisation of the supply of minors
The modern, rapidly changing world requires students who are flexible and multidisciplinary now and in their later lives. Utrecht University must give students with broad interests the opportunity to develop further in other fields. It is important for this that the range of minors is designed to be free of choice instead of rigid, predetermined combinations of courses. That is why De Vrije Student has written a proposal in the year 2019-2020 for tailoring and flexibilizing the range of minors, whereby each student can compose his own minor, regardless of the study, faculty or the department to which this minor falls. In this way, students can use minors to delve into exactly the topics they find interesting within a specific field, of course with due observance of admission requirements. This offers more options in addition to the existing free profiling space.
This is also advantageous for international students. It is currently common for minors to be (partly) offered in Dutch, and in this way they are given the opportunity to search for courses that are taught entirely in English.
Consecutive electives for six months
Some students also want to broaden themselves outside Utrecht University. Think of a minor at another university; in the Netherlands or abroad.
Unfortunately, this is currently not possible in a significant number of studies. Many studies have divided the profiling space over several semesters or even years, which means that it is not possible to follow a minor in a different location without consecutive delays as a result. This obstacle to the development of students is highly undesirable. That is why De Vrije Student has also included in its proposal that within all studies that have a profiling space of at least 30 ECTS, the possibility must be created to follow this profiling space consecutively, within one semester.
Making minors more flexible also contributes to this. After all, this makes it easier to take a minor within one semester, where many minors are now spread over several semesters. With flexible minors, a student is no longer dependent on when certain subjects are offered, but he or she can compose a minor within one semester. This will make Utrecht University more attractive to students from other universities in the Netherlands and abroad. After all, people often work with the semester system abroad. The Free Student will also continue to work next year to improve and flexibilize the range of minors and the freedom of choice at Utrecht University.
1.5 Respecting privacy
The importance of privacy is once again a major topic of discussion due to the Corona crisis. All lectures take place online. However, there are questions about the security and degree of data protection of various software used at Utrecht University and other universities. The American Public Prosecution Service has even started an investigation into the online conference program Zoom, which is widely used at Utrecht University, due to privacy concerns. In the Netherlands, too, there are uncertainties regarding the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In addition, Utrecht University has decided to use 'digital proctoring' in exceptional cases for taking distance examinations. This software provides access to students' laptops and telephones, in order to be able to disable certain functions and to monitor the student's activities via the webcam while taking the exam. If students refuse this, this will postpone the examination and thus delay study.
De Vrije Student thinks that it should never be the case that students must give up their privacy if they want to complete their studies successfully and without delay. De Vrije Student therefore advocates that privacy should never be forgotten, even in times of crisis.
Unnecessary use of data
Outside of these exceptionally distressing cases, things often go wrong at Utrecht University. The university must always indicate why it needs certain information from students and what is done with this information. Many bureaucratic processes run counter to the GDPR. For example, oblige student organizations to provide direct access to their membership records in connection with assessments for board grants, or to inventory the migration background and socio-economic class for the purpose of inventorying the diversity of the student population at Utrecht University. Such information should not simply be collected, used and stored by the university, certainly not without giving students the choice to guarantee their privacy.
De Vrije Student thinks it is unnecessary to oblige students to state their name above an exam. That is why De Vrije Student argues for the possibility of anonymous examination with all the privacy-related advantages that entails. Possible subjectivity among teachers is also removed, which is desirable for both student and teacher. Anonymous examination must remain a choice; students should be able to choose whether to leave their student number or name at an exam.
In short, De Vrije Student stands for :
Flexible study: pay per subject, maximum statutory tuition fees
Normal resit arrangements
No obligation to attend lectures
Broader range of minors
Possibility of contiguous free choice
Right to privacy:
no online proctoring
follow AVG guidelines