Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
Studium Generale debate on raising study efficiency
There are two sides to every story. This was the main conclusion of Tuesday’s Studium Generale debate on graduation achievement levels. Yes, it’s important for students to do extracurricular activities to develop themselves into well-rounded individuals. But also: yes, we need money to accommodate this, and is it fair to ask society to pay for the personal development of a minority?
Rein de Wilde, member of the discussion panel and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, feels that European students could take a leaf out of the books of their American colleagues when it comes to combining studying with student life. “In American universities students work hard, play hard and socialise hard. And I don’t think they’re more stressed than our students. Maybe we haven't yet learned how to do that here.” He is responding to two members of the audience. One was pointing out that we live in a competitive society, and to keep up with other countries students have to work harder. The other wondered what value she would be to society if she had burnout at the age of 30.
In discussing the statement ‘Students who excel should be granted a scholarship to study abroad or a prestigious international internship’, it emerges that the panel is no fan of the 3 percent rule, which awards the top 3 percent of students a refund of their tuition fees. “It’s better and more effective to connect excellent students with multinationals than to give them back their tuition fee”, former University Council member Joost van den Akker says. “Money should be given to people who don’t have enough of it to study”, says Ezgi Bagdadioglu, member of NovUM. De Wilde agrees. “This year we’re spending €750,000 on the 3 percent rule. That means we can’t give it to students from third world countries who are also very good but can’t afford to come and study here.” From Lukas Wetzel, member of Dope: “The rule is short-sighted and inefficient. We could also spend that money on more student-assistant jobs and internships.” And a critical note from the audience: “Before rewarding people with internships, you first have to think about how to fit that into their programmes, because now that’s not always possible.”
On the final statement – by focusing on efficiency, students will avoid extracurricular activities and therefore harm their personal development, which is necessary for their functioning in society – the panel agrees. Students shouldn’t be put under such pressure that they will miss out student life, but they could work more efficiently than they do now. “It will train you to organise your life”, Van den Akker says. De Wilde adds that students who take on more work – such as an extra curriculum – seem to be the most active students in university. “I see them in councils and on boards everywhere.” Agreement comes from the audience too: “If you’re under pressure, you’ll become more efficient.”