Read more about the investigation

Three U-Council students hardly ever showed up – and got paid in full anyway

Last year, three student members of the University Council attended almost none of the…

An investigation carried out by Erasmus Magazine recently showed that the university’s various councils have quite a few so-called ‘phantom members’, i.e., students voted onto boards who hardly ever attend meetings, even though they receive an allowance to do just that. The newly elected University Council is seeking to get rid of these profiteers, but until now, it lacked the measures allowing it to tackle the problem.

Now a proposal has been drawn up to target council members who are not making enough of an effort to do council-related work. The proposal states that ‘in exceptional cases’ in which a council member ‘no longer actively takes part or makes a contribution’, the chairperson may request the Student Affairs department to cancel his or her allowance. The department will make the final decision on the basis of the information and evidence provided.

According to University Council member Daniel Sieczkowski, the new procedure is intended to curb misuse of council members’ allowances. “Students are given allowances to make up for the fact that they will fall behind in their studies. If council members make no contribution, they will not fall behind because of it. Therefore, they shouldn’t be entitled to the money.” Actually removing non-contributing members from the council is impossible, since members are democratically elected.

Last resort

“It would be a last resort,” Sieczkowski was quick to add. “Also, it could be used as a temporary measure. If someone is going on a six-month round-the-world trip, his or her allowance could be cancelled for just half a year.”

Under the proposed rules, students whose allowances have been cancelled have the right to lodge an appeal against the decision with the Appeals Advisory Board. It is not entirely clear, though, how a student can appeal the decision, since the boundaries between absentee members and people who fail to attend one or more meetings by accident are not clearly defined in the rules. “We kept the rules vague on purpose, to prevent students from using loopholes in a calculated manner,” Sieczkowski said on that score.

Higher allowances

At the same time, the University Council has also proposed that student members of the University and Faculty Councils receive allowances for nine rather than six months. “We mainly proposed this because we wish to improve the quality of the councils and to attract many students of various backgrounds. Councils have become more professional in the last few years, and being a board member takes up an immense lot of time. And on top of that, students no longer receive grants”, said Sieczkowski. If student members’ allowances were to be raised, the students in question would not have to spend quite so much time on their studies or the jobs they do on the side.

The new measure would raise the total costs of allowances paid to members of the University Council from €38,000 to €52,000. It should be noted that student member allowances used to be granted for a nine-month period, which was reduced to six months just a few years ago.

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