Young Academy TU/e recommends education-free quartiles for lecturers

The Young Academy’s (DJA) recommendation to shorten the academic year doesn’t have the unconditional support of the Eindhoven branch. TU/e Young Academy of Engineering (EYAE) does not believe that a shorter academic year will lead to a lower workload with regard to teaching activities and wants to safeguard the quality of education. It would be better, according to EYAE, to group together all retakes in the summer and to give lecturers education-free quartiles.

photo Angeline Swinkels

EYAE chair Yoeri van de Burgt discussed the Young Academy’s report with the members during a hybrid meeting yesterday afternoon. “We agree that shortening the academic year will probably only relocate the workload for lecturers at TU/e, or lead to a concentration during other periods. We understand that the teaching load depends on the department and the university where people work. A reduction of the number of weeks spent on teaching activities might reduce the work pressure at a language department, but that doesn’t apply to our members. They usually don’t teach during all four quartiles. But the recommendation from the Young Academy was obviously meant to address the problem nationwide.”

Eindhoven experience

In the report issued by DJA, the Netherlands is compared to neighboring countries where the academic year starts later and ends sooner, but EAYE believes that it would be unwise to lower the work pressure at the expense of the quality of education. However, in order to help think of possible solutions in a constructive way – after all, DJA’s purpose is to provide solicited and unsolicited advice –, EYAE offers a new plan in return to reduce work pressure.

One of EYAE’s proposed solutions is to schedule an extended period free of teaching duties for individual lecturers. Van de Burgt: “If lecturers are exempt from having to teach classes and give lectures during one or two quartiles each year, they will have more time to focus on writing papers and proposals, or for visiting conferences. I too only have teaching duties in Q3 and Q4, so that I can conduct research or visit symposiums during the other periods.”

Fewer retake weeks

EYAE does however support DJA’s proposal to schedule all retakes in the summer. “This means that we only need two weeks in between quartiles, one week for preparing the exams, one week for the actual exams, and no retakes. That would immediately free up four weeks each year, which can be used to shorten the academic year. Again, we believe that reducing the number of teaching weeks is not an option, because that would lead to less high-quality education.”

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