Last Thursday, the university council voted unanimously in favour of a proposal to give university faculties five million euros in 2019. The faculties need the money to hire more educational staff in order to lighten the workload and make education more small-scale.
The board of the Faculty of Arts is happy with the decision, said managing director Wouter Heinen during the faculty council meeting last Friday. ‘This will enable us to take a step forward in fixing the largest problem at the faculty: the educational work pressure.’ A recent employee survey showed that the art faculty staff experiences this pressure as very high.
Heinen is ‘especially appreciative’ of the fact that the available fund will be divided proportionally, based on the number of students registered at each faculty. Normally, funds are divided based on the number of government-funded students, which the arts faculty has very few of.
The funds will be a one-ff, because RUG board president Sibrand Poppema will retire in September; since he does not want to rule from the grave, there will be no decision to make the five million structural until December at the earliest – although the board says that’s the ‘desirable’ outcome.
‘It’s kind of problematic’, says Heinen. ‘Obviously we can’t hire university lecturers for a single year only to fire them in the end.’ And while it’s technically possible to hire and fire ordinary lecturers, doing so would come with its own issues. For one, the arts faculty would exceed the maximum allowed percentage of temporary staff – 22 percent of the total number of staff.
The arts faculty managers will talk to the board of directors on Wednesday. They hope to convince the board to mark the amount as structural. ‘It’s a great decision’, Heinen emphasises. ‘We would just like it to be a bit more solid.’
‘Waste of time and effort’
The arts faculty board is not alone. According to Heinen, the Faculty of Law is also disappointed that the extra money will not immediately become structural.
The university council also criticised the decision. Personnel faction member Antoon de Baets says that a solution for high work pressure are long overdue, and shouldn’t be temporary. ‘Part of the solution would be to immediately make the promised funds structural, otherwise it’s just a waste of time and effort.’