The Faculty of Social Sciences’ four departments Public Administration, Sociology, Pedagogical Sciences and Psychology are to be reduced to just two groups. The programmes will have to work together much more closely and share courses.

That is the faculty board’s plan to make it possible to achieve the needed 2.5 million euros in budget cuts. In this plan, which still needs to be presented to the Faculty Advisory Board, the Public Administration and Sociology programmes will be combined into a single department. The boards of the two programmes will be merged. The same applies to Psychology and Pedagogical Sciences. As a result of these two changes, there will be fewer people working in administrative positions in the faculty.

The independent bachelor and master programmes will remain, but more subjects will be addressed with shared courses. This applies largely to courses focusing on general skills, such as writing, presenting and diagnostics. Statistics is already a shared course across the different programmes.

‘Fewer redundancies than expected

It was previously expected that between 25 and 35 full-time positions would be lost. Of these, however, Dean Henk van der Molen says that some have already been resolved as a result of natural staff turnover. A staff meeting will be held on Thursday, when the Dean will further elaborate on the plans. “The message will be that fewer people will be made redundant than previously thought,” commented the dean at the Faculty Advisory Board meeting on Monday 19 January.

Transition team

A transition team has now been created. This team, which includes two representatives per programme as well as a support staff representative, will play an advisory role during the reorganisation process. Econometrist Henk ten Cate has been called in as an external advisor. The transition team will continue to operate until the reorganisation process is complete.

Little support

Jacko van Ast, chair of the Faculty Advisory Board, believes there is little support in the faculty for the merger plans. Van Ast is concerned that the work pressure will only increase further. “You can see it already: a lot of people have resigned in the face of the reorganisation.” He wonders if the advantages of improved efficiency really outweigh the disadvantages. “It is as yet unclear exactly how much the change will yield.” Van der Molen was unable to quote figures at the meeting. It isn’t really known just how many people will be made redundant or how much money the merger will save.

Reorganisation plans not yet finalised

“That also makes it difficult to assess everything. We still don’t even know the whole plan. A lot of employees feel like every time they just get a glimpse,” says Huib Tabbers, member of the board’s staff delegation.

Van der Molen promises that the plan will be presented to the board in early February. It was supposed to have been presented in late 2014, but according to the dean, it was delayed by problems relating to the long-term budget. If the board agrees to the plan, all employees will be informed in April. Approval from the Executive Board would then be needed in early July.

Whether this will all happen according to that schedule is unclear. Van der Molen comments: “First of all, we are subject to the time that the Faculty Advisory Board needs to review the plans. Then the Executive Board still needs to submit the plans to the EUROPA trade union negotiations.” ES