Universiteit Leiden

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Students at the helm

Thanks to the University’ assessors, students have been given a permanent voice in the faculties. This unique role was celebrated on 5 July at a reception for present and former assessors.

An impressive 34 assessors came to the Leiden University Faculty Club on 5 July. They included not just today’s assessors but also some of the first assessors to be appointed 20 years ago. Carel Stolker joined in the celebration of all their hard work.

Unique role

‘The role of assessor is unique in the Netherlands and probably in the world,’ writes Laura van der Plas, chair of the Leiden Assessors Council (LAssO), in the almanac [in Dutch] that was presented to the current and former assessors at the reception. ‘Because it’s special that this student can pull up a seat at the table, and what is more, as a full member of the faculty board. In other student towns, assessors are just listeners.’

The assessors at Leiden University are the result of the Netherlands Higher Education and Research Act (WHW) from 1992. This stipulated that a student had to have access to faculty board meetings and documents at a university.

Complicated office

‘The assessors work hard on various themes at their own faculties,’ writes Olivier Fajgenblat, the assessor for the Faculty of Humanities, in the almanac. ‘But we also have monthly LAssO meetings as well as regular meetings with Hester Bijl, the Vice-Rector of the University.’

Fajgenblat calls the role of assessor a ‘complicated office’, in part because the assessor is not elected and serves the integral interests of the faculty rather than the student voice alone. ‘But behind the scenes, where regular students rarely set foot, the assessor is influential. It’s been the norm at Leiden for years: students at the helm.’

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