Clustering is part of a new package of budget cuts that were announced by the faculty board last summer. In the future, the programmes will have less money and the programmes’ organisation will be overhauled.
Programmes will no longer be separate little islands, but will group together and receive one budget for the group. The clusters will each have their own board that will be responsible for the budget, staffing and job appointments. ‘This allows the faculty to anticipate the ever-changing educational demand better and faster,’ the faculty board writes in a newsletter to all personnel.
The board proposes five clusters that should be implemented from September next year onwards. Each group consists of bachelor’s programmes, baster’s programmes, an educational master’s programme and a research master’s programme (see text box).
The first cluster will consist of the programmes International Relations & International Organization, Network on Humanitarian Assistance and the Research Master’s Programme Modern History & International Relations.
Cluster two will consist of European Languages & Cultures, English Language & Culture, and the Master’s Programmes Linguistics and European Studies. Together with the Educational Master’s Programmes French, German, English and Spanish.
The third cluster will consist of the Bachelor’s Programmes Communication & Information Sciences, Information Science, Dutch Language & Culture, Minorities & Multilingualism and Linguistics. Together with the Master’s Programmes Communication & Information Sciences, Dutch Studies and Linguistics. The Education Master’s Programmes Dutch and Frisian, as well as the Research Master’s Programme Linguistics will also part of the cluster.
Cluster four will contain History, American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Greek & Latin Language & Culture (GLLC) and Archaeology. Together with the Master’s Programmes History, North American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Classics & Ancient Civilizations and Archaeology. The Educational Master’s Programmes History, GLLC and the Research Master’s Programmes Classical, Medieval, Early Modern Studies and Archaeology (from 2017 onwards) will also be part of this group.
Finally, cluster five will contain the Bachelor’s Programmes Art History, Media Studies and Arts, Culture and Media. Together with the Master’s Programme Arts and Culture and Media Studies. Furthermore, the Research Master’s Programme Literary & Cultural Studies (including Cultural Leadership from 2017 onwards) will be part of this cluster.
Hans Jansen, chairman of the faculty board, does not yet want to say how the board’s personnel and students feel about the proposed clusters. ‘The proposals are still up for discussion and the board will have to make recommendations or agree to a final proposal after discussing the reactions,’ he says.
The department boards, which will be replaced by overarching cluster boards according to the plans, have differing feelings on the matter. ‘Intrinsically, the proposed clusters seem to match well, but a lot of different programmes will be placed into one cluster. I expect that individual programmes will still need their own board, which will create another board layer,’ says professor of Communication and Information Sciences Tom Koole.
Professor of History Maarten Duijvendak also thinks that the programme boards will still be required. ‘Many organisational decisions will still need to be made at a programme level,’ he says.
Despite the expected additional board layer, Koole does see opportunities in the new clustering. ‘Communication and Information Sciences, for example, shares a lot of common ground with a range of language studies; in time, more cooperation between these programmes will certainly be possible. This does mean, however, that the programmes need to make intrinsic changes. If this does not happen, then the new cluster boards will be of no use.’
Duijvendak is not as enthusiastic about these plans. ‘I fear that the proposed division will result in less personnel for the same amount of students. The question remains whether all smaller programmes can continue to exist under these plans.’
Professor of Neurolinguistics Roelien Bastiaanse thinks that the plans will affect the smaller programmes positively. ‘We now have four staff members at the Linguistics department who are responsible for one bachelor’s programme and two master’s programmes. We spend a lot of time on meetings and management, apart from actually providing the education, which should be the focus, of course,’ she explains.
Bastiaanse expects that the termination of the department boards will ease the work pressure on staff members. ‘I think that the staff will be thankful for this in the long term.’
The faculty board appointed three advisory groups to find out how to attract students with interesting education, how the cluster boards should be formed and how much money groups should have at their disposal.
By the end of January, they will make recommendations to the faculty board, which will subsequently have to come up with a final cluster division. The programmes need to work together from September onwards. After January, the cluster chairpersons and coordinators will already be appointed.
According to the faculty board, the teachers and chairs will remain responsible for the content of the programmes. ‘Nothing will change for the students,’ the board says.