The structure of student participation in areas related to aducation
The ASR (algemene studentenraad in Dutch, which roughly translates to general student council) today can be defined as a personal union between the decretal student council of the university college of Odisee and the campus student council of the KU Leuven university.
The ASR is made up of two governing bodies. On the one hand there is the Dagelijks Bestuur (which acts as the Executive committee of the student council) and an Algemene vergadering (Which acts as the ASR’s Deliberative assembly).
- The Dagelijks Bestuur (which we’ll abbreviate to DB from now on): meets on a weekly basis. Present at that weekly meeting are the ASR’s chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary, liaison officer and the executives tasked with PR and IT. To protect the interests of the various campuses, every campus that doest not have a representative serving in one of the aforementioned posts within the DB can send a delegate to the meeting of the DB. Since the DB acts as the Executive committee of the ASR, it is allowed to take decisions related to both the daily running of the ASR and matters that require urgent attention. If the latter happens to be the case, the DB is required to thoroughly brief the members of the ASR on the next Algemene Vergadering.
- The chairperson and vice-chairperson: the chairperson’s main task is to ensure that the ASR continues to function properly and that there is a long-term strategy in place to make sure that the ASR will also be able to defend student rights in the future. THe vice-chairperson acts as the chairperson’s right-hand and supports the chairperson wherever that is necessary. In case that the chairperson is absent, the vice-chairperson steps in and takes over the chairperson’s obligations. Both chairperson and vice-chairperson are members of the board of directors of Odisee VZW. One of them also has a seat in the UC-council. Ideally, both chairperson and vice-chairperson represent a different educational group (In the Belgian context, that means that one should be enrolled in a Professional Bachelor program and one in an Academic Bachelor or Master program).
- The secretary’s first responsibility is the control and distribution of important documents within the structure of the ASR. Additionally, the secretary is tasked with taking the minutes of every meeting of the DB and the Algemene vergadering.
- PR Executive: as the name already implies, the PR Executive’s primary duty is to take care of Public Relations. They take care of communication with the students the ASR represents (through social media, the webpage and promotional campaigns). Whenever the ASR organizes events or activities, the PR-official also acts as the ASR’s official photographer.
- IT executive: maintains our website, mailing lists and intranet.
- Liaison officer: responsible for maintaining the lines of communication with the decretal student council of the KU Leuven (Stura KU Leuven) and the other bodies of that university. The liaison officer is also tasked with coordinating actions with the Stura KU Leuven in case the need for joint action arises.
The position of liaison officer can only be filled by a student who is enrolled in an Academic BaMa program. Preferably, the liaison officer is also a member of the executive committee of the Stura KU Leuven.
- The Algemene Vergadering: (which we’ll abbreviate to AV from now on) formally assembles five times per academic year. Four of those assemblies are regular AVs (at a rate of two per semester) and in the second semester (May to be precise) there is one additional Electoral AV.
This Electoral AV is responsible for everything related to the election of the next DB. In the first place, that means that next year’s DB is elected during this Electoral AV. In order to facilitate said election, the Electoral AV has to hear the various candidates’ motivation for wanting to participate in the DB, followed by a Q&A in which the candidates’ knowledge and capacities are tested.
The regular AVs are responsible for a much wider range of decisions. This includes determining the electoral procedure, bestowing student representatives with extra powers and constructing a coherent governing policy.
Decisions are always reached democratically. Each member of the AV has one vote to cast. For a proposition to pass at an AV, a majority of the members in attendance needs to cast their votes in favour of it. In case a decision solely impacts students enrolled in an Academic BaMa program or a Professional Bachelor program, only the student representatives of those factions are allowed to cast their votes.
The only exceptions to the above pertain to votes about the electoral procedure, the by-laws about participation and operation and the definitive expulsion of an AV-member. In those special cases, a qualified majority of three-quarters of the members in attendance is required.
In May, the members of the AV are directly elected by the students they represent. For those elections, constituencies operate per field of study. The basic principle is that every field of study needs to be represented by at least one AV member. However, in order to ensure that the AV stays manageable, the membership is limited to a total of fifty seats. With this limitation in mind, the ASR chooses to award one seat for every starting amount of 600 students.
All calculations were made based on the number of students reported to the Association KU Leuven on February 14th 2014 (students enrolled in one of the various transition programs were counted alongside the students of the educational program they will be a part of after the end of the transition program). The fields of study which are active on more than one campus have a right to an additional observing member for every campus without a voting member in the AV.
The elected members of the ASR are automatically made members of the (P)OC (Permanente Onderwijscommissie which unofficially translates to Permanent Commission of Education) or Kernteam (Core team) of their respective educational programs. Out of these student representatives, people are chosen to represent the students of their own (sub)faculty within the structures of their educational programs.
The distribution of votes is given in the following table:
|Handelswetenschappen (Business Science)||4|
|Industrieel Ingenieur (Industrial Engineering)||3|
|Bedrijfsmanagement (Corporate Management)||3|
|Lager Onderwijs (Elementary Schoolteacher)||2|
|Secundair Onderwijs (Secondary Schoolteacher)||2|
|Gezinswetenschappen (Family Science)||2|
|Toegepaste Taalkunde en vervolgmaster journalistiek,
meertalige communicatie, tolken en vertalen (Applied Linguistics)
|Kleuteronderwijs (Kindergarten Teacher)||1|
|Elektronica – ICT (Electronics – IT)||1|
|Sociaal Werk (Social Studies)||1|
|MIBEM / MIBEB||1|
|Bouw (Building Technology)||1|
|Agro- en biotechnologie (Agrarian and Biotechnology)||1|
|Biomedische laboratoriumtechnologie (Biomedical Laboratory Technology)||1|
|Chemie (Chemical Technology)||1|
|Ontwerp- en productietechnologie (Design and Production Technology)||1|
|Voedings- en dieetkunde (Nutrition and Diet Science)||1|
|Medische Beeldvorming (Medical Imaging Technology)||1|
|Energietechnologie (Energy Technology)||1|
|Toegepaste Informatica (Applied Information Technology)||1|
|Elektromechanica (Electro Mechanics)||1|
|Vastgoed (Real Estate Developer)||1|
|Facilitair management (Facility Management)||1|
|Ergotherapie (Ergo Therapy)||1|
|Milieu-en preventiemanagement (Environmental Protection and Prevention Management)||1|
|Handelsingenieur (Business Engineering)||1|
|Optiek en Optometrie (Optics and Optometry)||1|
|Taal-en letterkunde (Language and Literature)||1|
At the Electoral AV in May, the student representatives get to vote about the following mandates:
- The members of the Dagelijks Bestuur
- The representatives in Odisee’s Academic Council.: The ASR delegates six students enrolled in a Professional Bachelor program (One for every field of study) and one student enrolled in an academic BaMa program as observer.
- The student representatives in the steering committees tasked with Internationalisation, diversity and language policy. The ASR sends one student representative to each of these.
- The student representative in de SGOK PO (Steering Committee Education and Quality Professional Bachelor Programs). This representative is always a student enrolled in a Professional Bachelor Program.
- The representatives in VVS (Flemish Society for Students) and StAL (Student Council of the Association KU Leuven). The representatives in VVS are always students enrolled in a Professional Bachelor program.
The chairperson of the ASR has to be elected with a qualified majority of two-thirds of the votes cast by the members in attendance. The vice-chairperson is elected with a regular majority (so half of the votes + one). Both are elected through an extended procedure. Every candidate for either job needs to write a cover letter and a CV, which will be sent to every member of the AV. At the Electoral AV, every candidate for the position of chairperson and vice-chairperson is given the chance to motivate their candidature. After giving their motivation, every candidate will be questioned by the members of AV about their motivation, capability and goals. Based on all this input, the AV will then choose whether or not to elect the candidates in question (this is done with a secret vote).
For the other mandates, a different procedure is put into place. The candidates for these mandates need to briefly elucidate their candidature at the electoral AV. If the AV is satisfied with their arguments, it will vote in favour of their candidature by simply raising hands (with a majority of half of the votes plus one, the candidate will be elected). There is however the possibility for a secret vote, if either a candidate or the majority of the AV asks for it.
The following figure gives an overview of student participation in education. Legend:
- Orange: Positions held in common by students in Academic BaMa and Professional Bachelor programs
- Blue: Reserved for students enrolled in an academic BaMA program
- Purple: Reserved for students enrolled in a Professional Bachelor
- Rectangles: organs of the institutions
- Ovals: organs of the student representation
Structure of the participation in the matters of Student facilities
General structure of the student facilities
The student facilities are run on three different levels:
- Decretal level: For Academic BaMa programs the final responsibility rests with the decretal STUVO-council of the KU Leuven. For the Professional Bachelors, final responsibility rests with the decretal STUVO-council of Odisee University-College. These two council are also made up of partial-STUVO councils to facilitate the different campuses.
- Union level: Seeing how Odisee UC and KU Leuven are now both members of the Association KU Leuven, we now have a decretal STUVO-council of Odisee on the one hand and a partial-STUVO council of the KU Leuven on the other hand. However, both of these always conduct their meetings together.
- Campus level: Based on the principle of subsidiarity, the decision was made to create social campus councils. These social campus councils are made up of a partial-STUVO council of Odisee and a part of the partial-STUVO council of the KULLOC.
- Factions: The decretal STUVO-councils are made up in equal parts out of student representatives and university personnel. On top of that, there is an extra limitation that states that maximum two-thirds of the members can be of the same gender. Both of these limitations do not apply to the partial-STUVO councils.
- Educational groups: On the one hand there are Professional Bachelors (UC) and on the other hand there are Academic BaMa programs (KULLOC)
Student representation within the councils tasked with managing the student facilities
This paragraph is only concerned with the student representation within the councils tasked with managing the student facilities. The ASR regulates modalities of the student representation in the STUVO-councils. If problems occur on the decretal level (the Flemish government) with the gender balance rule, the problem will be solved by the faction responsible for the problem.
Union (UCC) level
On the union level, there are twelve student representatives in the STUVO-council. On top of one observer from the DB of the ASR (the DB-member who is tasked with coordinating social matters). These twelve student representatives are made up of:
- Eight students enrolled in one of the Professional Bachelor programs of Odisee. To ensure that both genders are represented, a maximum of two-thirds of the representatives can be of the same gender.
- 4 students from the campus in Brussels (chosen by the Social Campus Council of Brussels)
- 2 students from the campus in Ghent (chosen by the professionel student representatives within the Social Campus Council of Ghent)
- 1 student from the campus in Aalst (chosen by the professionel student representatives within the Social Campus Council of Aalst)
- 1 student from the campus in Sint-Niklaas (chosen by the professionel student representatives within the Social Campus Council of Sint-Niklaas)
- Four student representatives have to be enrolled in an academic program (KULLOC):
- 2 students from the campus in Brussels (which in this case also includes the campuses in Dilbeek and Schaerbeek). These two students are chosen by the academic student representatives in the social campus council of Brussels.
- 2 students from the campus in Ghent. These two students are chosen by the academic student representatives in the social campus council of Ghent.
In cases of academic student representatives, the gender balance rule is not enforced, since they are only members of a partial-student council.
The academic student representatives also have to choose a student representative from their midst to take a seat in the decretal STUVO-council of the KU Leuven.
The following illustration gives an overview of the structure of student representation within the STUVO-council.
Since some of the aspects regulated by the STUVO require a specific approach per campus, the decision was made to found Social Campus councils to take care of specific campus related business. Below an overview of the various social campus councils is given:
- The social campus council of Gent has seats for 8 student representatives. Four of those have to be enrolled in an academic BaMa program, while the other 4 have to be enrolled in a Professional Bachelor program.
- The social campus council of Aalst has 4 seats for student representatives. Because of the fact that Campus Aalst only offers Professional Bachelors, all 4 seats are given to student representatives studying a Professional Bachelor.
- The social campus council of Sint-Niklaas has 4 seats for student representatives. Because of the fact that Campus Sint-Niklaas only offers Professional Bachelors, all 4 seats are given to student representatives studying a Professional Bachelor.
At the beginning of each academic year, the student representatives within their respective social campus councils elect one of their members to represent them in the decretal STUVO-council and the campus council of their respective institution (KU Leuven or Odisee). The student representatives enrolled in a professional Bachelor program do have to take the gender quota of the decretal STUVO-council Odisee into account.
The following illustration gives an overview of all the levels of student representation relating to STUVO matters:
The elections for both the positions related to education and social matters are held at the end of April or the beginning of May. The elections are watched over by an electoral bureau, chosen during the last regular AV of the ASR.
All students are called upon via e-mail to put their candidature forward for the (s)POC/Kernteam and the social campus council. Students can also choose to run for both.
After the deadline for candidatures has passed, the elections are officially opened. All students get an e-mail in which they are given the possibility to vote. Each student casts two votes. One for their representative within the ASR (here they can only vote for people of their own educational program) and one for their representative in the social campus council (here they can vote for all candidates in the same educational group. A student enrolled in a Professional Bachelor program is thus able to vote for all candidates with that background).
Positions in the ASR AV are awarded to the candidates who garnered the highest number of votes in their respective educational programs. To give an example, the Academic Bachelor Business Administration has two seats in the AV. If three candidates from this bachelor are vying for a seat, the two candidates with the highest number of votes behind their name will be given the position. In case winning candidates forsake their seat, the candidates with the second highest number of votes behind their name will be asked to step up and take over the seat.
The first meeting of the ASR AV, where all the new members are introduced, has to take place before the fifteenth of May. The results of the election are sent to the heads of the various educational programs per e-mail. This way they know who their student representatives are and who will take a seat in their (s)POC or Kernteam. In cases where an educational program is not represented, the head of the educational program in question will also be notified.
The department heads of STUVO+ also receive the results of the social campus council elections via e-mail. That way, they too know who the student representatives in their councils are. At the first gathering of every social campus council at the start of the academic year, the first order of business is choosing the student delegates who will take a seat in the decretal STUVO-council.