Letter from the University Council

by: in University Council

Dear Maastricht University Community,

Since May 1, I have had the honour of being the chair of our University Council. I have worked at University College Maastricht since 2007, teaching a range of courses in political philosophy. As Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences Education, I do research on the value of liberal education and am an evangelist for this educational philosophy in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and Europe.

Throughout my career, I have held a wide variety of roles, including Vice-Dean of Academic Affairs and Acting Dean of UCM. I also chair the Ethical Research Committee for the Inner City Faculties and was a member of the development team for the BSc in Global Studies.

As chair, it is my ambition to make the University Council a forum for meaningful conversations about the kind of institution we want to be and how we want to respond to developments in higher education. Hence, I hope to engage with the wider community as much as possible, sharing the work the council does and soliciting input from staff and students. This is going to be an ongoing process, which will hopefully be co-created by stakeholders from the entire community and the whole council. However, as a first step, these letters from the University Council will appear after every meeting, summarizing the discussions and decisions of the council. This blog will continue to develop in all kinds of ways, updating the community on what is going on but also asking for input.

Within the governance of our university, the University Council plays an important role, serving as a representative body and acting as a dialogue partner of the Executive Board on all major decisions. The council has a wide range of powers, including the right of consent and advice on many matters, including the budget and the strategic plan. It meets monthly for a plenary, but also has committees on Strategy, Research and Education, and Operations which prepare topics for discussion during the plenary. The council consists of 10 students, 6 scientific staff members and 4 support staff members, and is elected by the entire community.

During our meeting on May 31, the council dealt with several important topics. Firstly, the council approved the new UM Allocation model. This is the internal system for distributing the funding the university receives from the government for research and teaching to the faculties and service centres. This needs to be updated from time to time, to reflect changes in the structure of the university, such as the creation of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and to take into account developments like increasing costs of managing our IT infrastructure. The council was already briefed about the changes in a special meeting and they were discussed in the Operations committee. After further discussion, the proposal was approved.

Another point on the agenda was the regulations for student admissions to selective programs. The student members of the council may advise the Executive Board on this matter. As there were only very minor changes compared to last year, the students advised the board to implement the regulations.

The council also had an open discussion about the Minister of Education’s proposal to lower the so-called Binding Study Advice (BSA) for Bachelor students to a maximum of 30 ECTS in the first year and a further 30 ECTS in the second year. The rector of the university presented how the BSA is currently implemented at Maastricht University and explained that the universities in the Netherlands are concerned that such a change would have a range of undesirable consequences. Students shared their thoughts on the matter as well, some arguing for a more flexible approach to the BSA while others supported the proposed change. Scientific staff members added their concern that a too permissive approach to the BSA can cause problems for teachers.  

I look forward to keeping you informed about the activities of the University Council and engaging in conversations about how we want to shape the representative process at our university. If you have any thoughts about this you’d like to share, you are always welcome to get in touch with me at: chair-ucouncil@maastrichtuniversity.nl . If you’d like to know more about the council, visit our website.

Best Wishes from the University Council,

Teun Dekker