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The University of Amsterdam has formulated ten starting points to bolster internal democracy, increase the quality of teaching and research, give complete financial transparency and strengthen the bond between education and research. Moreover, the hall of the Maagdenhuis is to become a place for debate and discussion.

These points are contained in a statement sent earlier today by the Executive Board to the UvA’s students and staff. According to the Board, it has ‘come to the conclusion that a new direction is essential with regard to the organisation and decision-making. A direction that is appropriate to a time of widely shared information, that meets the needs of a university in which debate always takes place openly and actively, and that befits an organisation comprised of engaged staff and students. In this respect, it is only fitting for the University of Amsterdam to lead the way and to chart a course that could potentially have an impact on the university landscape as a whole.’ 

The ten starting points are centred, among other things, on financial transparency, the position of teaching and learning, the number of part-time employment contracts and decision-making. In addition, the Executive Board explicitly calls on the political establishment in The Hague to take responsibility by reducing regulatory overload and dealing with the overemphasis on output and returns.

Although the letter is addressed to all UvA staff, it also deals with the concerns that have been voiced in recent weeks by the Central Works Council (COR) and Central Student Council (CSR), the ASVA student union and action groups such as the New University, Rethink UvA, Humanities Rally and other interest groups.

Talks with students and staff

Over the last few weeks the Executive Board has held several talks with various parties, including the university’s students and staff. The issues that were raised were diverse and of various degrees of intensity, depending on the faculty, the discipline and the position of the staff and students with whom it spoke. ‘Nevertheless, we believe that a common denominator exists: a feeling of concern that the university is gradually losing its way’, the Board states.

The ten starting points

  1. Strengthen the representative advisory bodies, give right of approval for allocation model
  2. Democratisation – by presenting important decisions for approval and exploring new forms
  3. Decentralisation – by investing authority in the lowest possible echelons of the institution
  4. Total financial transparency
  5. Decision to build new Library to be presented to academic community for approval
  6. Primary emphasis on creativity and innovation in education and research
  7. Reinforce bond between education and research and value education just as highly as research
  8. Put a cap on part-time employment contracts
  9. Make the hall of the Maagdenhuis available for debate
  10. Call on The Hague to take responsibility

To this, the Executive Board adds: ‘These points are just the start; it is our collective responsibility to shape them further. Some of the points are sizeable and not everything can be arranged immediately. For others there are differences of opinion about how to implement them. We realise that many things need to be fleshed out further in collaboration with the academic community. In short, for some points the way forward has not yet been finalised, but we are committed to all of them.'