A school year with more moments of rest

A school year with more moments of rest

A fairer promotion, a smarter school year. The year 2024 presents big challenges for the university, and columnist Dirk-Jan Scheffers looks to the future.

This is the last school week of the calendar year. December is a time to drink, look back, and long for the holidays and gifts. The best gift Dutch science has given itself in recent decades has been the establishment of young academies.

The National Youth Academy (DJA) is not so bad anymore, with some former members now making it to the executive boards of various universities. But our YAG is only six, and this applies to more “local” initiatives.

These young scientist clubs develop all kinds of initiatives to make science accessible to the general public, for example during the Noorderzoon conference. But, and this is at least as important, they also regularly come up with well-designed initiatives to improve academic life.

For a long time, only professors were considered full-time in the academic world

They’ve had great success with this – people listen regularly which is great. Because for a long time, only professors were considered full-time in the academic world. The “young men” had to work hard, copy the art (from the master) and keep their mouths shut.

It’s a culture that is fortunately changing, something to which a report from YAG in Groningen has contributed, but also to which DJA is contributing through the #everyoneprofessor initiative.

The principle of “every professor” aims to eliminate the not-so-innocent formal differences in authority between university ranks (promotion rights, wearing a gown). In Utrecht and Leiden, all members of the doctoral committee are now allowed to wear a gown.

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This deserves an immediate imitation in Groningen. Then nonsense can be prevented, such as having to take off a replacement dress right before the ceremony.

DJA also has new ideas about the holidays. In 2021, the “Smarter School Year” report was published, which found that the Dutch school year is much longer than that in neighboring countries.

It is a shame that education continues in the last week before Christmas

Students have almost no moment of rest during this long year. Only if you don’t have retakes will you sometimes get a week off. It doesn’t help your mental health, and according to recent research, things don’t go well anyway.

Teachers, in turn, often have year-round commitments, making it difficult to go to a conference or work on an article or proposal undisturbed for a longer period of time.

The fact that education will continue to be offered in the last week before Christmas is unfortunate – especially in light of our international staff and students. In many countries, Christmas is mainly celebrated on December 24, and the closer you are to Christmas at home, the more expensive the trip will be.

Fortunately, in response to the DJA report, Groningen is thinking carefully about how to make our year “smarter”. I hope this leads to a school year with more moments of respite than just the next two weeks.

happy vacation!

Dirk Jan Scheffers

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