For some initiatives the university is working on, such as the campus app, the students' perspective is crucial to create a project that appeals to students. 'The university wants to involve students in decision-making on projects and events, but the departments struggle to find the students for that,' explains Koen Geurtsen, a bachelor student in Mechanical Engineering. ‘This is where the student involvement consultants come in.’
Koen Geurtsen, together with the other student involvement consultants, Rahadian Rukmana, Maarten Veldhuis and Abdulaziz Nur, want to build a bridge between the university and the students. The consultants are not only eager to help the departments find students, but also the other way around. 'Some students also want to get involved, but they find it difficult to find suitable places, those students can contact us.’
Apart from having an opinion on a particular project or event, there are no specific requirements that a student has to fulfil in order to get the opportunity to work on university projects and events. 'The university relies on the students' opinion because that is the most important thing, so it is not necessary for a student to be trained for giving their input,' explains Maarten Veldhuis, Master's student in Business Administration.
The idea to connect students and the university in this way did not come out of the blue, continues Veldhuis. ‘There was a working group here at the UT that researched the current situation of student participation. One of the results of that research was that there needs to be a special team that specifically takes care of the student-university connection.’ Whether students are paid for their contribution to projects depends on the context of the project. ‘For short, one-time meetings, students are not paid, but for longer projects, sometimes lasting months, the student will be compensated. This still depends on the department’, states Geurtsen.
The initiative is active and the student involvement consultants are already working on their task of connecting students with university projects. 'We have worked on several projects at and within the university,' says Geurtsen. So far, the departments seem to be grateful for the students' new insights. 'We have talked to a number of departments and students and the general reaction is very positive,' Veldhuis explains.
The only challenge that the consultants face is getting the initiative noticed by other students. 'We have a hard time letting students know that we exist because we are a new initiative and are not yet deeply rooted in the university,' Geurtsen explains. According to Veldhuis, this is also due to the nature of the initiative: 'This is a unique project. There are not many universities in the Netherlands that offer something like this, which explains why many students don't know about us yet.’
If you are a student and would like to get involved in university projects, you can contact the Student Involvement Consultants.