By Milan Matthes Kale
Towards the end of the first week of the academic year, several third-year students received notification that their respective groups for the Advanced Research Writing (ARW) course had been changed without their consent. To their dismay, the sudden change led to some conflicts with work schedules. This raises concern as to how AUC accommodates teaching a diverse student body.
One such third-year AUC student, who wishes to remain anonymous, opened Portal expecting that the change will not be a big one since the email was vague regarding the details. Instead, she found out that her student schedule has altered completely, which prevented her from working on Mondays and Thursdays. The short notice of the change additionally worsened her situation as she already had working shifts planned for the next few weeks.
Afterwards, she reached out to the Service Desk about the possibility of being switched back to the initial ARW group, explaining the clashes with her existing work schedule. She was met with the response that “as AUC students, we [AUC] expect you to be available full time,” and, therefore, her request was denied. It was only after involving her tutor and finding another student willing to change classes with her that she could switch groups and be able to continue with her established working schedule.
According to AUC’s new Head of the Admissions and Registrar team, Janey Niemeijer, the reason for these late group changes was the unbalanced amount of students enrolled in each group. When prompted about why such changes were not made before the first week of classes, Niemeijer explains that due to the vast amount of students requesting changes during the Add/Drop period, the current course registration system prevents the administration from differentiating between the students who are already in the course, and the students that have requested group or course changes.
Another third-year student, who requested anonymity, similarly had her course group changed, which clashed with a previously set work schedule. “It would mean that I could never work on those days, which would cause a big inconvenience,” she says, continuing, “expecting students to have nothing planned aside from school is unrealistic and it is healthy for students to have interests, hobbies, activities, and jobs planned outside of AUC.” She goes on to explain that AUC should not take it for granted that such activities can be as important as the school itself.
She, too, was informed that she had to be available full-time for the AUC program and that adjustments to her working schedule cannot be made. “This attitude is very unfair towards students, especially because AUC claims to be inclusive to a diverse student body,” she criticises.
When asked what AUC’s policy on being a “full-time program” was, Michiel van Drunen, the Head of Education, clarified that this is not AUC’s policy, but rather the Dutch law. The work week at AUC is meant to uphold the standard of a full-time job, averaging 42 hours of work per week. For Van Drunen, this means that students’ schedules are expected to be available for taking classes between 8:30 and 18:00. Van Drunen goes on to state that while he “very much agrees that it is important that students are able to plan ahead, […] in exceptional cases, we must make last minute changes.” Van Drunen assures that AUC is evaluating these last-minute changes and is trying to prevent them in the future.
The AUC Student Council expressed that they are aware of the issue and state that they “recognise that many students had already arranged their work hours, which now clashed with their classes and caused additional stress.” They continued, stating that they “will inform management of your experiences to make sure that the regrouping of courses will be dealt with carefully since your mental health and work life can be heavily affected by this.” For the Student Council, it is important for students to be able to request exclusions from regroupings if it affects their private work schedule.