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Microwaves in the student cafeteria, all exam dates listed and free sports

Microwaves in the student cafeteria, all exam dates listed and free sports

Photographer:Fotograaf: flickr.com/TheresaThompson

Council elections 2016

Communication could be much better, tutors should receive more standard teaching hours and exams should be checked beforehand for mistakes. From 23 to 26 May, students can vote for the new members of the University Council and the faculty councils. Observant asked three student parties about their vision on PBL, exams and facilities.

Michael Dijkstra, University Council member and again candidate for NovUM and third-year European Studies student

PBL 2.0 “It is important that students are challenged. In many faculties, students now get questions in tutorial group meetings, the answers of which can be found in a single book. I believe it is important to look at various sources alongside each other and then to draw your own conclusions. That is how you promote critical thinking. Therefore, there should be more standard teaching hours for tutors, an item to be included in the Strategic Plan. We would also like to see training for better insight into group processes. Tutors would then be better able to put students at ease. And it should be easier to take a subject at another faculty or a language course.”

Examinations “Exams are often only ready at a late stage. This means that a tutor can only prepare students specifically in the last two weeks. The time of the exam is also announced at a late stage. This needs to be sooner and clearer. In addition, we want tutors to be given more time to mark exams.  At the moment, they have two hours per tutorial group; assuming a group of 14 students, this means 7 minutes per paper. Then the student receives a standard correction form with check marks for fail, pass or good, which is very frustrating, or a tutor has to do the marking in his own time.”

Sports “The university should do more to promote a healthier lifestyle among students. The habits that you develop as a student, remain with you for the rest of your life. The UM also has career courses and counsellors for students, and this should be seen as an extension of those. For example, the fact that you have to pay to do sports is a barrier. It could be free, or at least cheaper. Catering could also be healthier. Most of the vending machines only have fizzy drinks and sweets.”

International Classroom “I notice that I often think the same way as other Dutch students in my group. Foreign students offer a different perspective. The ratio between Dutch and foreign doesn’t matter so much; you have to have the best students. It is important, though, that integration goes well, both between Dutch and foreign students and in the city. A project by students to help refugees: great! The UM should support and stimulate such initiatives more. The UM could also open its door more often. The PAS Festival is a good example.”

Main difference with other parties “We are activists, have a lot of contact with our voters. There is a meeting every two weeks. The things that our members feel are important – sustainability, integration – are reflected in our proposals. For example, we fought for free Dutch courses, which everybody now receives.”

Leonard Nijman, next year faction chairman for DOPE in the University Council and second-year student of Medicine

PBL 2.0 “Tutors need extra training. Sometimes students have the impression that the tutor would rather not be there or doesn’t really know how PBL works. Exactly how PBL is implemented differs per faculty, study programme and tutor, we don’t want that.”

Communication “Communication in a number of areas could be much better. Take the newsletter that every student now receives. It contains about twenty announcements, a large number of which are not very important. Because of this, students may miss the information about the Tapijn barracks being open, having overlooked the announcement. We want a shorter newsletter that only contains the most important information. Also, all those different websites and portals – EleUM, Blackboard – could be organised more efficiently, so that information can be found in one place.

Examinations “We want – preferably at the beginning of the year – a list of important data for students. When are the exams, resits, and the deadlines for signing up for a subject and for papers? We understand that this is not always possible in September, but now students only receive the information about the time of an exam two weeks beforehand. It can also take a long time before an exam or paper has been marked. Give an open and clear explanation about why this is the case. That would create more understanding. And be clear about the date when the final grade will be made known.”

Study spaces “Additional study spaces have been created, but for some studies it is still not enough. We also see that people who are not studying at the UM, like secondary-school pupils, make use of the university library. We were thinking of gates, which are only in use when it is very busy, such as during the exam weeks. Although students themselves should take their responsibility too: by not keeping a study space occupied and leaving to go for lunch for two hours.”

International Classroom “Our motto is: the more the merrier. As far as we are concerned, integration is going well. We feel that it is important that foreign students receive as much help as possible with matters such as registering with the city council, finding accommodation, etc. What we do hear is that for some study programmes, the lecturers’ English is still substandard. Everyone should be able to understand a lecturer. Furthermore we feel that the UM could make more use of their contacts with foreign universities. At the Faculty of Medicine, for example, you can take a block of your choice in Italy. That university also has other faculties, so why not use this contact and expand upon the exchanges?”

Main difference with other parties “DOPE is connected to the Intercity Student Body (ISO). Because of this, we know what is happening at other universities and together we put issues forward to the Ministry of Education. So we also have influence on a national level.”

Romain Hollands, faculty council member at Psychology, candidate again for WISE, third-year student of Psychology

PGO 2.0 “Not enough discussions take place in the tutorial groups. That is partly because the groups have become bigger and bigger. First-year students have 14 to 15 people in a group. If you want to say something, another 5 or 6 people want to say something too. The result: everyone remains quiet. But the role of the tutor and discussion leader also needs more attention. A discussion leader needs to help the discussion along, get people thinking.”

Examinations “There are a lot of complaints about bad translations of exams, which are in Dutch and English. Terms that Dutch students have also learned in English are suddenly translated. There are also many inconsistencies. In that case, the answers in the Dutch version are in a different order than in the English version of the exam. Also, questions are often deleted afterwards, because they did not link up enough with the subject matter or even contradicted it. In the last exam on ‘critical thinking’ this was the case with ten of the forty questions, which is 25 per cent! If exams were ready sooner, then someone, preferably a native speaker with an understanding of the subject – could check them out.”

International Classroom “There are two large groups: Dutch and Germans. They mix less well than one would like. Certainly now that the foreign students in the new English bachelor’s track no longer learn Dutch. Everybody reverts back to his or her own language during the break. We want to dedicate ourselves to more interaction between these groups.”

Student cafeteria “A lot has changed in the student cafeteria, there is more fresh food. Expensive if you compare it to other universities, but that is the consequence if you want to prepare more on the spot. What could be improved upon is the choice, which is limited. Only one vegetable, covered in greasy sauce. And you cannot order different parts of the menu separately. We would also like to have microwaves and electric kettles. That way students could heat up food that they have brought from home. Now they are compelled to buy something in the student cafeteria if they want a hot meal.”

Main difference with other parties “We are active and involved, we concentrate fully on the Faculty of Psychology and we ensure consistency. With other parties, you often have new candidates every year. We originated in the council and two of our representatives are already council members.”

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