University Forum proposal drawn up following consultation

3 July 2017

The proposal is for a broad-based forum, with participants from all parts of the UvA, who will discuss policy several times a year.

One of the recommendations made by the Democratisation and Decentralisation Committee at the end of last year was the introduction of a new-style senate: a place where the University community can remain engaged over the longer-term. The Committee proposed that a ‘wide-ranging deliberative forum’ be set up.                                                                    

Rector Magnificus Karen Maex: ‘I am pleased that, following the many talks held recently, we now have a well-thought-out proposal.’

Following the release of the Committee’s report, different options were inventoried. These were discussed at a public meeting on 31 March and the conclusions from the meeting were subsequently worked out in a discussion paper. That paper was available from 25 April to 16 May on denkmee.uva.nl to allow everyone to provide input and then discussed with the deans on 15 June. The current proposal describes the University Forum’s position, tasks, composition, approach and method of evaluation and includes draft regulations. The proposal has been sent to the UvA’s representative advisory bodies for a substantive discussion.

Karen Maex: ‘Recently, a couple of things became very clear. First of all, it is important that the University Forum not become a new representative advisory body because it would then compete with our current representation, something the Democratisation and Decentralisation Committee already warned us about this. Their advice has been followed in this proposal: the University Forum's strength lies at the very beginning of a process, even before various committees or representative advisory bodies have been involved.’

Regarding the Forum’s composition, the proposal follows the Committee’s idea except that it expands membership to 74 members, in part to accommodate some student executives from study associations, the soon-to-be-appointed diversity officer and the chair of the UvA’s Ethics Committee. Karen Maex: ‘We also opted for membership by lottery, a suggestion that was widely supported. Currently it’s often the same people involved in discussions; it's important to broaden involvement.’

The Committee proposed a ‘new-style senate’. Because this term can be confused with the current senate and, internationally, with bodies holding other powers, the name University Forum was chosen. ‘This doesn’t mean that expectations are different. It’s a matter of building it up. For now we’re proposing two or three meetings a year, well-prepared and with lots of time for discussion. After two years, we will evaluate and adjust our approach if necessary. We want the meetings to be memorable and to have an impact.’

The Executive Board hopes that a decision to get started with this University Forum can be made once discussions with the representative advisory bodies have been held.

Please note: the proposal is available in Dutch only.

Published by  University of Amsterdam