Fostering student participation by higher education institutions (06/12/2018)

In its response to the recommendation on encouraging student participation, the Minister asked the Vlor to make a concrete proposal on how institutions can make their vision and policy on student participation more concrete.

A shared responsibility

The Vlor pleads for a dialogue model in which constructive cooperation works in confidence. It is important that an institutional culture is developed where student participation is an integral part of the institutional policy. To this end, existing rules, rights and instruments must be clearly and formally made explicit so that all participants in the consultation are aware of this.

Policy plan and decree framework

The Vlor states that student participation for institutions should be more than just granting the student statute. Each institution must, together with its students (council), think about the vision, support, specific actions and resources that it sets against it. This requires a policy framework that is not only part of the student facilities policy plan, but goes institution-wide. The participation regulations are a good tool that must be used to respond specifically to the needs of the students in the specific institutional context. It is enforceable and contains the legal protection of the student. It must be realized in dialogue with the student council and also give students the opportunity to realize student participation in all its breadth. To this end, the Council suggests a number of decretal adjustments, and asks the Minister to implement this via upcoming decrees.It must be examined which minimum elements must be regulated in the participation regulations in order to give students more clout. In addition, it can be made explicit where students can go if the institution does not comply with its (decretal) commitments. The Vlor also believes that the student participation policy can be a theme for a system-wide analysis in quality assurance.

Legal position regulations of the student

The Vlor requests that the status of student representative is enforceable. This is still insufficiently the case today. The status must be automatically granted when an internal or external mandate is included. The student council, together with the institutional board, has to draw up a list with which mandates are eligible for recognition. The Vlor also proposes that the institutions provide an independently functioning ombudsman service and give it a clear place in the organization's organization chart.

Facilities and support

For the Vlor, the facilities from the Participation Decree do not have to be adapted. He does ask that these facilities can be used for all effectively recorded mandates. They must also apply to internships and it must be ensured that they are also awarded effectively. The Higher Education Codex provides that the institution financially supports the Student Council. The Vlor believes it is important that this financial support is done in an adequate way and with a realistic budget. The Vlor asks the way in which the budget is to be fixed, and  to embed it more decently. Finally, further consideration must be given to staff support for the Student Council, training, validation of student representation and good agreements on logistical support.