Housing shortage in Eindhoven, a proposal to shorten the academic year, the call for more concrete measures towards a more sustainable university. The University Council presented the Executive Board with a wide variety of issues on Monday 27 September, along with the question of how the board intends to take action on these matters.
The Executive Board was unable to fully answer most of these questions at this point. Housing shortage will remain an issue for some time, that much was clear from vice-president Nicole Ummelen’s words. The new residential towers on the campus will be completed in 2023 at the earliest. Naturally, the university will continue to communicate with the parties that committed themselves to the new Covenant Student housing in April of this year, Ummelen said. She also said that the call in the local newspaper Eindhovens Dagblad to make room available to students has helped some thirty students so far.
The appointment of TU/e’s new Sustainability Ambassador Anna Wieczorek needs to boost the university’s sustainability goals, the Executive Board said. But Wieczorek started only recently. And what about the Young Academy’s nice plan for a shorter academic year? Looked quite interesting at fist glance, rector Frank Baaijens said. “We intend to study it, but it must not be at the expense of the quality of our education, and it has to be feasible. We will take it into consideration during the consultation with the departmental deans, which we expect to result in some concrete proposals.”
Drop in rankings
The Executive Board was clearer when it came to TU/e’s drop in various international rankings. A trend that has been going on for some years now. Executive Board president Robert-Jan Smits said that he too is worried about this. Before he stated that Pantea Haghighatkhah, member of staff faction PUR, had asked whether the Executive Board acknowledges the problem and how it intends to address the matter. Is there a plan in place to turn that downward spiral around? Haghighatkhah believes that a drop in the rankings will have a negative impact on the university’s scientific reputation and consequently on its efforts to recruit international students and talented researchers. At the start of this month, TU/e dropped from the top 200 of the university ranking published by British magazine Times Higher Education, which had ranked the Eindhoven university in 104th position only a few years earlier in 2014.
Smits said that a thorough inquiry has to be made first into the exact reasons for this drop. Smits: “What are the most important underlying factors? Because we need to be careful not to take the wrong actions.” Increasing the university’s scientific excellence is a collective responsibility however, in Smits’ view. “I believe, incidentally, that the establishment of our new research institutes and the investments we make in our scientific infrastructure, already increases our chances of recruiting more talent in Eindhoven in the future.”
Smits wants to have a plan in place by the end of the year designed to improve TU/e’s position in the rankings. “But don’t expect it to work this year already, or next year.” The recovery will take more time, the board president said.