The University Council has agreed to the reorganization of the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, under one condition: that not all supporting staff will be transferred to Rotterdam right away.
The Institute of Social Studies is faced with austerity measures. Among these is a plan to transfer part of its support services at the Shared Service Centres (SSC) at the Erasmus University, in Rotterdam, which is supposed to improve efficiency. This has caused some worries at the ISS. Will it still be able to ensure personal attention to the international students? These concerns, among the staff as well as the students of the institute, have led to them starting a petition. There is little complaint against transferring services such as ICT Support, unlike for tasks that that will be placed under SSC, such as the registration of grades.
The tasks of staff at the ISS don’t have very clear-cut boundaries. The ISS offers ‘integrated’ education, which means that every member of staff is partly responsible for the guidance of the students, many of whom are from third-world countries. They could face problems with, for example, insurance and residence permits. As it stands now, they can easily call on the staff for their needs.
Before the tasks can be moved over, there first has to be more clarity on who will exactly do what. Tasks will have to be untwined while the quality of education at the ISS remains ensured. The institute has not received sufficient time for this, says the U-Council. “They are not ready yet”, said student council member Tim Beyer during the assembly. The council recommends postponing the 9,7 fte (between fifteen staff members) until July of 2014. “It might make a difference of 200,000 on budget cuts totaling 900,000”, calculates Beyer.
Not enough guarantees
Board member Bart Straatman disagrees with postponement. According to him, the ISS has structural financial problems, and something has to be done right away. “Right now, we still have the funds to do this, without forcibly firing people, and with good settlements. We will carefully execute the implementations step by step.” Beyer did not find his words to be sufficiently concrete. “I do not see enough guarantees for maintaining quality in the current plans.” Following this, Straatman requested a suspension of the session, which he used to consult with other Board members and Leo de Haan, rector of the ISS.
Lack of bilingual integration
Nineteen delegates from The Hague showed up, but only three headsets for the translation were available. The ISS delegation tried to follow the assembly while huddled around the translator. The assembly was in Dutch, which forced the delegates to do a lot of ‘post-translating’ during the adjournment. “This session being in Dutch is very telling”, says an ISS staff member. The ISS sees the lack of bilingual integration at the EUR as one of the problems with transferring their tasks to Rotterdam.
After the adjournment, Straatman proposed a compromise: the 9,7 FTE can stay in The Hague until come January 1st. Meanwhile, executives of the departments in The Hague and Rotterdam will cooperate and assess the best ways to implement the redirection. The Council approved of this. PM