Students against clustering

Student political party Letteren Vooruit is not happy with the plans by the arts faculty board’s to sort programmes into clusters. The party is concerned that the programmes will suffer as a result.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Traci White

The student party members fear that the plans will put the diversity and quality of education at risk. The faction is also concerned that clustering the programmes will mean more bureaucracy.

‘We have to remain vigilant to ensure that the clustering is not a gateway to further merging of courses or programmes. Even though it may be less financially feasible at times, we see the value of smaller programmes in our faculty’, says chairperson Rico Tjepkema.


The cluster arrangement is part of a new packet of measures announced by the faculty board last summer. Programmes will no longer be individual isolated islands, but rather part of a group. These so-called clusters will each have a separate budget.

The board has proposed the creation of five clusters which should be in place as of September. Each group will consist of bachelor programmes, master programmes, a teacher training master and a research master. According to the plans, the department boards will be replaced with an overarching cluster board and cluster coordinators. Another administrative level will also be added: Directors of Studies. They will be responsible for one or more of the connected studies within a cluster.


Recently, two separate groups of employees addressed letters to the faculty council protesting the programme clustering plans. The staff expressed concerns that the plans were being implemented too quickly, were not well thought out and were leading to more workload issues and bureaucracy.

Letteren Vooruit is also worried about the funding for the clusters which, according to the plans, will be financed based on their output, namely how many diplomas and study points are achieved.

‘Basing financing on output could lead to one cluster being much weaker than another and therefore being subjected to more radical cutbacks. We are also concerned about the fluctuations that will accompany this financial model. We fear that the financial situation will vary from one year to the next, which will lead to the tendency to hiring more staff with flexible contracts rather than permanent ones’, according to Tjepkema.


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