The next Inkom event will only have mixed groups after all. The Inkom Working Group is sticking to its guns after a consultation round of the student associations and organisations as well as a survey among all first-year students, bachelors and masters. According to Anne van Tetering and Sonja Bongard from the Working Group, mixed groups are the best way to promote integration between Dutch and foreign students.
After two years of compulsory mixed groups – previously there were Dutch-speaking groups and English-speaking groups – criticism on this policy grew this Spring. In particular the large student associations complained about groups disintegrating rapidly, unmotivated mentors and the decline of membership because the recruitment of members is partly done through the Inkom groups. The solution would lie in returning to the old situation, but the new Inkom Working Group was not in favour of this at all. In addition, the survey among about 4,500 first-year students (with 385 responses) did not provide arguments for a return to splitting groups; on the contrary, say Van Tetering and Bongard: “Many respondents pointed out the need to do something about the language, to ensure that everyone - but especially the mentors - use English.”
The Working Group honoured the adage that the introduction period of an international university should have an international character from the start, and is coming with practical solutions. Bongard: “The focus will be more on integration during the compulsory mentor instruction beforehand: how to lead an international group. Furthermore, we will let the prospective students know at an early stage what to expect, because that was lacking. And lastly, we will reserve twenty minutes at the beginning of the Inkom week in which the newly formed groups can first get to know each other, with a round of introductions and a game. So there will be a bond before they attend the festival that afternoon, because that is where the associations and fraternities/sororities look for new members and where Inkom groups sometimes disintegrate under the pressure.”
The Working Group has also consulted Wim Swaan from the School of Business and Economics, responsible for ‘intercultural co-ordination’, and Tom van Veen, the new UM dean for internationalisation. Van Veen suggested that the Inkom groups should be put together based on the language of the study they will do, so that in that way there will still be Dutch groups. Van Tetering: “We feel that this is a good idea; after all, for them the need for an international mix does not apply, but that will only be introduced next year. The registration system makes it impossible at the moment.”