Lack of interest in internationalisation grants
In 2019, thirty-three student organisations received a financial contribution amounting to 23,172 euros in total, CUOS’ annual report says. But in 2020, only twenty-three student organisations submitted an application, resulting in a total of 10,829 euros paid out to twenty organisations. CUOS has decided to cut this year’s internationalisation budget from 30,000 to 25,000 euros and to further reduce the amount of money available by 5,000 each year. The money is supplied by the UG.
Communication manager Sue Mae Klein stresses that CUOS is looking into new options for the grant. It’s currently used for events and activities, but also for the translation of official documents and student associations’ websites into English. ‘Many organisations have already done this’, she says, which is why there might be fewer applications.
Another grant, aimed at setting up new international student organisations, has had no applications at all in 2020. It, too, will be reduced, from 2,000 to 1,500 euros. CUOS suspects all international organisations have been formally established by now. Klein explains the budget hasn’t been cut completely because ‘we believe that the use of the grant is a fluctuating process’. In 2019, a total of 1,265 euros was paid out to two organisations under the scheme.
CUOS does not explicitly raise awareness for its grants, admits Klein. ‘But all the important information is provided on our website and we are in close contact with the international student platform GISP to ensure that we are aware of how we can help internationally oriented organisations.’
The student parties in the university council feel that CUOS should be more proactive in approaching associations about the subsidies. ‘Then applications might rise in the future’, says Rozemarijn Gierkink with Lijst Calimero. ‘5,000 euros less every year means the budget will be completely gone within five years. We don’t think the inclusion issues can be solved in five years.’ David Jan Meijer with De Vrije Student agrees that internationalisation is a process, so organisations will need less university money over time, ‘but we’re not there yet’.
Christopher de Bruijn with the Studenten Organisatie Groningen (SOG), on the other hand, says that ‘CUOS is not trying to reduce or remove the subsidy’, but rather is revising it, to make sure that the money is spent more efficiently. ‘We want to start a conversation within the university to see where possible improvements can be made’, says Klein.