This week, members of university participation councils were sent a long list of questions. Their answers should shed light on how the participation system in higher education can be improved.

At the end of 2013, Minister Bussemaker decided that a special monitor should be set up to look at the participation system in both research universities and universities of applied science. She wants administrators to take participation seriously and to grant their participation council members sufficient training and provisions.

According to an earlier study by the National Student Union and two participation council associations (SOM and LOF), the latter was often lacking. The Dutch National Students’ Association (ISO) has also urged for a cultural shift.


Student unions and associations of universities and participation councils have recently been discussing the questions in the monitor and their exact wording. Many of the questions address the provisions for council members. Respondents are also asked to indicate whether they are informed in good time by administrators and whether administrators respect the council. They are also asked to describe their relationship with the supervisory board and the educational programme committees. Other questions address the effect of the participation system.

ITS, a research institute in Nijmegen, will chart the answers. The monitor will be presented on 17 June, the national day of participation. The study will be repeated for three consecutive years.

No ‘naming and shaming’

The institutions can compare their scores with the average, but the scores cannot yet be traced back to individual institutions. According to ISO director Rosanne Broekhuizen, naming and shaming has purposely been avoided. She hopes that institutions will improve their participation culture on their own initiative. “If the next monitor shows that this is not happening, then other steps may be considered.” HOP