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'It would be useful if you could follow lectures online'

Elections will be held in April for the University's central employee and student representative body. Alderik Oosthoek (23), a student of Public Administration, is a member of the University Council (UR) on behalf of the Enterprising Students party. This is the fifth interview in a series of portraits of current UR members.

Alderik Oosthoek: 'There's too much focus on numbers and not enough on people.'

Can you tell us about what the UR is currently involved in?

‘In the most recent meeting we expressed our concerns about study places. We've been saying for the past two years that there is a real shortage of study places in the library at peak times. Following our complaints, the Executive Board made more study places available temporarily in other buildings and extended the opening times of the existing study areas during those very busy periods. We've asked whether even more places can be made available, in the Asian Library, for example. One concrete result of our efforts is that there's been no increase in the prices in the canteens. Very cool!' 

What are the key issues for your party?

‘Sustainability and internationalisation. We pointed out that there are too few places where you can refill your water bottles, and now there are a lots of taps for drinking water. And there are separate waste containers as well. We also think it's important that internationalisation doesn't go too far. The University has to be attractive to international students, but we're keeping a critical eye on it. You don't want a university where the international students all come from the same country. We also think that for each programme you have to look at whether it should be given completely in English. With a programme like International Relations that's logical, but there have also been plan to teach astronomy completely in English. That's going too far.'

There's a lot of talk about the preoccupation with numbers at universities. What's your view?

‘With all the strict demands - for example that you have to have high grades for a masater's - it's very difficult to develop other activities beside your studies, even though it's important for a follow-on study programme or for finding a good job that you've done an internship, got some committee experience or you're doing a second study programme.  All these demands bring with them a lot of stress. There's too much focus on numbers, and too little on people. One of the reasons I wanted to join the UR is that I think there's too little opportunity to develop your skills outside your studies. It would be much better if you could organise your studies more flexibly; if you could follow lectures online, when it suit you, for example.'  

As a UR member have you gained any new insights into the University?

‘I had never realised that the organisation is so huge. There are so many layers that things can be slow moving. But the enormous size means that there is also an enormous amount of knowledge and expertise and that you have the chance to develop in so many different directions.'