Letter from the University Council

by: in University Council

Dear Members of the UM Community,,

A lot of the work of the University Council consists of advising on policy proposals and approving official documents. However, the Council is also a venue to discuss issues that occupy the minds of the members of our community and where the Executive Board addresses controversies that arise. That makes the Council more than just a formal institution, but also a forum for debate about what is going on at the university.

Financial update
During its October meeting, the only administrative issue on the agenda was the so-called T-8 update. In this update, the finance department explains how the actual income and expenditure of the university after eight months compares to the budget. In the original budget, a slight deficit of about €5 million was predicted. However, it now appears that the year will end with a surplus of €3 million, partly because filling many vacancies has proven difficult. The Council was worried that this means increased work pressure for existing staff and urged the Executive Board to take action to fill these positions as soon as possible.

The Executive Board also responded to the allegations made by the higher education online news platform ScienceGuide, which alleges that the university is intimidating journalists through legal threats and financial actions. The Executive Board explained its side of the story, emphasizing the importance it places on protecting its employees, but also its commitment to freedom of the press. For more details about this matter, have a look at Observant’s coverage.

Situation Southwest Asia
Every Council meeting ends with an opportunity for members to ask questions on any topic. This meeting, several members asked whether the Executive Board is aware of the tensions that have arisen in the community concerning the terrible situation in Southwest Asia and what it is doing to make sure these tensions do not make members of our community feel unsafe. The Executive Board explained the policies on freedom of expression and the code of conduct, but also how it is monitoring the situation and what actions it is taking to make sure everyone’s rights are protected.

A glimpse of the future
Over the next few months, the Council will consider the university budget for 2024, work on the topic of support for students with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or neurodivergence in a dedicated working group, and participate in the selection of the new Vice-President, as well as anything else that comes up. As always, I will keep you posted. 

Teun Dekker
Chair University Council