MAASTRICHT. A lesson-free block period for all staff members with a research appointment, more room for sabbaticals, 10 per cent extra research time for lecturers with few research hours, and more time for the supervision and assessment of theses. The Faculty Board of Arts and Social Sciences wants to reduce the workload in the short term with a range of measures - costing 1.2 million euro over three years.
A UM work perception survey carried out last autumn showed that employees at FaSoS suffer from “recovery deficiency” more often (50 per cent more) than their colleagues from other faculties. This means that they are so tired after a day’s work that they have trouble showing up fit for work the following day.
The results were discussed in the departments, and where necessary a follow-up survey was held. Dean Rein de Wilde: “The balance between education and research is often missing, the standard hours do not always correspond with the time that a teaching task actually takes, quiet summers are a thing of the past, because even then the staff have their hands full with thesis supervision and exam resits. Furthermore there are the HRM matters: because of the temporary contracts there is a lot of coming and going, which causes unrest. PhD students are worried about their future.” And last but not least, staff members feel that most of the appreciation goes to researchers who publish in major journals. De Wilde disputes the latter. “The ideal person is someone who is capable of doing it all: teaching, research and management, but you can have an emphasis within that. That is also what we do, but apparently we have to express it better.”
During the faculty Education Day last Monday, the faculty board presented its plan of approach for the very short term. There will be a budget for so-called improvement plans: the extra work that resulted from the yellow cards issued to six programmes by education watchdog NVAO. In addition, the board will set aside more money for leave in general: from two thousand to three thousand hours, each level-3 lecturer (new as well as current) will receive an appointment for 70 per cent teaching and 30 per cent research, from 1 September (against 80-20), the schedule will be adapted in such a way that everyone has at least one block period without teaching commitments, and the standard number of hours for thesis supervision will be raised for the first and second supervisor. “That is the most expensive measure,” says De Wilde. “We will have more second assessors and they will get three hours for a bachelor’s thesis and five hours for a master’s. The thesis supervisors will also get extra time: three hours extra for the bachelor’s (for a total of 9), five for the master’s (for a total of 17).” And the worry of the PhD students? “I understand that they are worried, there is more uncertainty about the future, but the facts say that most of them end up well.”
All in all, the board has budgeted 1.2 million euro for the next three years, money coming from its reserves. “After the summer, a long-term plan will follow. We will strengthen quality assurance and co-ordination of the programmes. We have already started: the bachelor’s programmes now have an assistant director; the examination committee already has an external member and will receive more hours. “