Posted in Policy

Eye blinding transparency at Erasmus School of Economics.

Last council meeting Philip H. Franses, dean of the Erasmus School of Economics, claimed he is transparent and open as can be, but is this really true? And what about the Erasmus University as a whole? As a government institution you would expect transparency, but as it turns out the Erasmus University is far from that – in fact, all this ‘transparency’ makes it all kind of eye blinding.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The past tells us the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) sometimes chooses to inform the School Council right away, while other times it takes several weeks for information to reach the council members. It is striking that the selective characteristic of informing council members may well depend on the strategy of the ESE and Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).

The past also suggests that when the ESE and EUR are anxious to change policies, the council is immediately notified (e.g. new block system, BSA, limiting re-examinations). These policy changes are likely to be of high priority to the university and are often characterized by microwave-legislation.

Other policy changes or drastic measures like terminating a whole Bachelor program in 2007/2008 the school council ESE was informed very late during the academic year – it was done in the midst of the summer during which council members are likely to be absent. N.B. students are working hard on their exams and professors are likely to go on vacation and little possibilities remain to consult with the school’s community when they are unavailable.

Lack of transparency

Another example occurred last council meeting when student council member requested letters and documentation that informed student-advisors about the proposed termination of the Master program Economics & ICT. The advisors wrongfully informed prospective students that the Master program Computational Economics would also be terminated and wanted to clear up this ‘misinformation’ to find what led to students being informed with this false information.

Vice-dean and program director Ivo Arnold labeled this matter as ‘bizarre’ but refused to give a statement, additional information or provide relevant documentation. It is striking to see that the ESE depicts itself as ‘transparent’ but fails to provide that transparency when things go wrong or do not fit within its strategy. It is something The ANDY Standard likes to call ‘eye blinding transparency’: using indoctrination to convince the public transparency exists, while it does not – which blinds the public.

Bad timing

The University Council was informed late November and had just a couple of months to discuss the proposed termination of the Bachelor Economics & Informatics until the deadline mid-February. The Council noted back then it was “displeased about the timing” and stated it “wished to have been informed in a much earlier stage”. The Council also plead for more regulation on these kind of proposals, but it is unsure whether or not those regulations will ever see the daylight.

ESE Media informs Council

This week the university chose to inform the media (Erasmus Magazine, Digitaal Universiteitsblad Utrecht) first and has yet to officially inform council members about the latest plans for 2012/2013. The plans comprise of freshmen students acquiring the maximum of 60 credits (ECTS) within their first year, otherwise they will be kicked off the program.

Other measures would include limiting re-examinations and increasing the allowed amount of re-examinations per year. It should be noted these measures already apply for students at the ESE since the introduction of the new academic calendar back in 2006/2007, also called the block-system.

In a brief statement the ESE points out that “these measures were proposed by the University Board which is accordingly responsible to inform the councils at different schools”. The ESE further notes the measures on “compensation and re-examination policies already apply here and any proposals for changes would be submitted to the council”.

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