TOF believes that the faculty should not be a diploma factory through which students are led as quickly as possible. The fixation on production and efficiency thinking has led to a university where students are a number and are discharged by their studies as quickly as possible. There is an increasing high school mentality, a decline in the number of large courses that are offered and there is too much pressure to perform for students. Nominal graduation is a perverse incentive for students to complete their studies quickly instead of developing themselves. TOF prefers that students are encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities, even if this leads to study delay. TOF therefore believes that the rule that the faculty only receives money for students who complete their studies in nominal+1 must be abolished. The financial allocation should also not be determined by student numbers.
For years, the Faculty of Humanities has had to economise and is likely to have difficulty surviving in the future. TOF believes that higher education institutions in the Netherlands should join forces and compete in The Hague for more money for higher education, especially for the Humanities. It is time that people realized that the future of the Netherlands is educated here, not only at the Faculty of Humanities, but at all higher education institutions in the Netherlands. For this reason TOF supports the protests against cutbacks in higher education. The party will fight for better education: both the student council as on the street.
If cuts cannot be avoided, quality of education comes first, even in times of austerity. Before cutting the education budget, all other options must be considered. The diversity of disciplines is what makes this faculty unique and must be protected at all times. TOF will therefore fight for the preservation of small studies and the preservation of elective courses. Although smaller programs are often more expensive, the value of education must be measured through a scientific rather than financial scale.
If cuts have to be made, the process must be transparent for both students and employees. In response to the cutbacks, interdisciplinary education should not be used to attract more students. Instead, we need to preserve as many disciplines as possible: it is difficult to regain expertise once it has disappeared from the faculty. TOF supports the works council in its fight against the high workload for teachers: even if cuts are made, the mental health of teachers and employees must be guaranteed.
The quality of education is top priority at TOF: a program should only change the language of instruction to English if that improves the quality of education. Switching to English to attract more students should never be the only reason for a change in the working language. If a program decides that a language change is required, it must submit a clear plan to the Student Council that shows that the disadvantages of the change of language have been mapped out and overcome. The support of teachers and students from for the language change of the program is of the utmost importance, and they must also have access to free academic English lessons after the change. Given that the faculty has expressed the wish to be a bilingual faculty, TOF believes that such lessons in academic English and academic Dutch are offered to all students and staff of the faculty free of charge. As long as there’s no true bilingual faculty, all correspondence from the Faculty must also be in two languages.
Binding Study Advice
According to TOF, advice that is binding is a true contradiction. The BSA must be abolished, TOF would like a non-binding study advice instead. Although the first year can be an indication for the success of the study, the student must be the one who ultimately decides whether the study can be resumed. Students who have difficulty with their first year should be spared the stress of a negative BSA. Instead, they should receive proper study guidance.
High School Mentality
In order to get students through their studies as quickly as possible, we have seen an increase of a “high school mentality” at university. TOF is against compulsory attendance at seminars, as attendance is the responsibility of the student. Also whether or not a student has prepared for the workgroup falls under their own responsibility and should not be checked by the teacher. Submitting weekly assignments is something that belongs in high school, not at the UvA. There is an increase in the amount of test for students. Because the faculty is currently imposing the minimum number of tests a course must have, there has been a growth in the number of AVV/NAV assignments. TOF believes that the faculty should not impose a minimum or maximum number of test: the teacher knows what is best for the course. In addition, education and training committees should be encouraged to take a critical look at the number of tests within a course.
The end of 884
The uniform 8-8-4 year format does not leave enough room for the wishes of students and teachers of a specific study program. There are many complaints within the system about the four-week blocks, which are often too short to be useful or effective. TOF believes that it should always be possible to deviate from 884 if this improves the quality of education. If a relaxation of 884 proves to be inadequate, a different annual layout must be considered. If possible, TOF would like to see room for reflection built in within the 884- or another system.
At some faculties of the UvA, a pilot for flex-studying is currently happening: students no longer pay for their studies per month or per year, but now pay per credit they earn. TOF is against flex studying because it leads to the commercialization of education. The faculty should not be a place where students put courses in their shopping carts and pay for them individually. This makes the economic value of courses all the more important than quality. Moreover, courses of a course are not usually isolated, but together form a coherent whole. Because flex studying makes it possible to follow courses in a different order, it can lead to students missing crucial knowledge. Instead of expanding the flex-study pilot, TOF believes that the faculty should conduct research into other good ways of studying part-time. To make it easier for students who have extracurricular activities, the UvA should pay a larger fee for it. The rules on paying tuition fees must also be clearer for students: a lot is already possible. Education must be accessible and not commercialized.
TOF believes that sustainability should have higher priority on both the faculty and on the central level. Last year, following a recommendation from the Student Council, the Faculty of Humanities decided that the standard lunches and drinks at the Faculty of Humanities should be vegetarian from now on. TOF is pleased that the faculty has made this choice and hopes that the UvA and Faculty of Humanities will become more sustainable. Sustainability must play a major role in the development of the new campus in the inner city. Future real estate plans must be energy-neutral and gas-free.
In the field of sustainability TOF fights, among other things, for the following:
- Less meat and more vegetarian and vegan options in the canteen. The caterer must also be encouraged to do research about more sustainability and less waste in the UvA canteens.
- Waste separation at all UvA locations, especially at the new University Quarter.
- Better promotion of the discount that you get in the canteens if you bring your own coffee cup.
- Encouraging staff and students to print less.
- Switch to a greener bank.
- The Uva only to fund plane tickets for staff and students (for example for attending conferences) if the alternative is not feasible
- Climate neutral UvA locations where possible.
- Only financial support of the UvA for study associations when they make sustainable choices, like making a study trip by train.
- Facilitate and encourage programmes to include sustainability in the curricula.
- Encourage students to make their behavior more sustainable.
TOF sees this list as neither exclusive nor exhaustive when it comes to sustainability initiatives. It is important that both the Faculty of Humanities and the entire UvA continue to think about ways to become more sustainable. At the Faculty of Humanities, someone should be hired to think about making the Faculty as a whole more sustainable.
It is known that there is a large shortage of student housing in Amsterdam. Although it is even more difficult for international students to find a room, the UvA continues to actively recruit abroad. The campaign is not realistic: when international students come to Amsterdam, it is often not as easy as promised. TOF believes that the university should stop recruiting international students as long as the housing shortage has not been resolved. International students who come to Amsterdam on their own initiative should be well informed of the difficulties they may encounter in finding a home.
According to TOF, the provision of information about the difficult housing market in Amsterdam must be better communicated to all students, Dutch and foreign, who come to study in Amsterdam. The UvA must realistically promote itself and the city. For example, students should be warned about the safety on some campuses and there needs to be a disclaimer about scams on housing websites. To resolve the housing shortage among students, TOF also believes that the UvA should actively enter into a partnership with the municipality of Amsterdam.
Students must have access to cheap and good food throughout the day, even in the evenings. When the current caterer’s contract expires, TOF wants all options to be open. In the new contract, lower prices must be guaranteed, or the prices must be reduced by having the UvA itself take care of the catering and canteens. In the canteens there must be enough vegan and vegetarian food available, and for the options offered in general, more attention must be paid to the wishes of the student population, such as allergies and religious restrictions.