According to both parties, the Board of Directors blames the staff for the many complaints about work pressure. ‘You’re trying to wash your hands of it. So far, you’ve only taken symbolic action, but we require structural changes: more staff, maximising teaching requirements to 50 percent of the function, university-wide, and you need to look into a serious policy on sabbaticals’, De Baets told the Board of Directors.
Earlier this year, the FNV union reported that the pressure on university personnel is much too high. More than half of all employees suffer from either physical or mental ailments.
‘Extremely high work pressure is what happens when universities only want to churn out diplomas and publications. The board is doing everything they can to deny that they are the cause of the problem’, DAG’s Jaspen Been said during a council meeting.
On Thursday, the Council discussed a proposal by the RUG board to tackle the work pressure. This proposal mainly covers existing projects, where employees can temporarily switch work stations, do sports, or are advised on time management and healthy diets.
‘Nowhere does the proposal mention anything about publication pressure, flexibilisation, or the student-to-staff ratio: they are blaming the employees themselves’, Been responded.
RUG president Sibrand Poppema admits to the increase in work pressure, but disagrees that the employees themselves are blamed. ‘That accusation is completely inappropriate’, he said. ‘All we are saying is that it’s up to individual employees to decide whether or not to work on their research at night. That’s a personal choice.’
Poppema also says that too many academics think that publishing as much as possible is a must. ‘It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality. If an increase in quality means we would go down in the rankings, I wouldn’t care at all. I have a hard time taking anyone who publishes one hundred times a year seriously. And yet we see that happening. That will have to change.’
According to the RUG president, they will make an effort to get more staff. ‘This will improve the student-to-staff ration for the first time in years, with the goal to reduce work pressure. This in turn will improve the quality of education.’