Participational bodies criticise absence of clear choices in Strategic Plan

03 Jun 2019

Too few clear choices have been made in the draft version of the Strategic Plan. This was the criticism passed on to the Executive Board yesterday by members of the participational bodies. ‘The danger of planning that is too concrete is that you can easily be held to it,’ responded President of the board, Daniël Wigboldus.

A draft version of the Strategic Plan, the university’s long-term vision, has been completed following a long preparation with online and offline brainstorming sessions. Students and staff members questioned the Executive Board about this draft version yesterday, at the Joint Assembly in the Senate Room at Radboud University.

Former USR (university student council) chair Gijs Kooistra addressed the board on behalf of all the students and staff members of the participational bodies. ‘It is still not entirely clear to us where you want to position Radboud University in five years from now. The real direction you want to take is absent from a large number of sections.’

According to the participational bodies, values which were difficult to disagree with were named in a great many sections, while concrete choices were missing. The University Student Council and the Works Council also presented a list they had drawn up of twelve subjects which they felt were still lacking in the plan.

Budget

President Daniël Wigboldus spoke in the board’s defence. ‘The aim of this plan is to make people ambitious,’ he said. ‘To encourage staff and departments to think about what they can contribute to the university.’

Daniel Wigboldus. Foto: Gerard Verschooten

According to him, the decision not to incorporate overly concrete goals into the Strategic Plan was a conscious one. ‘The danger of that is that you can easily be held to it. It puts you in a position of having to do things, and that is not the aim here.’

Wigboldus denies that the board is consciously keeping the Strategic Plan vague in order to sidetrack the participational bodies. ‘We will be asking the faculties and Radboud Services what they can do annually to contribute to this.’ He also referred to the university’s budget, which specifies the amount of funding that will be spent per project. ‘We evaluate each year whether that has been successful or not, and where any adjustments might be needed.’ That gives the participational bodies an extra opportunity to check the plans.

Pressure of work

There was also discussion about the substance of the plan. Simone Lederer of the Works Council deplored the fact that the issue of pressure of work is not addressed in the draft version of the Strategic Plan. ‘The Works Council has had this at the top of the agenda for more than ten years now,’ added Bernadette Smelik, chair of the Works Council.

‘We want to approach the subject of pressure of work in a positive way’

‘Obviously, we feel responsible for the welfare of our staff and students,’ responded Wigboldus, ‘but we want to approach this subject in a positive way. That’s why the words ‘pressure of work’ don’t appear in the text. We will certainly look into what we can do with your suggestion.’

According to the participational bodies, the university’s ambition in the area of internationalisation is still too European in the draft text. ‘We chose to mention in the text places to which we would like to pay extra attention,’ answered Wigboldus. ‘When we say that European cooperation is important, that doesn’t mean we no longer wish to collaborate with the University of Western Ontario.’

The Executive Board will now go on to refine the plan, taking the input from the participational bodies on board. There will be a vote on the plan next month. It should be complete by September, in time for the opening of the new academic year.

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