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What do higher education students think about diversity & inclusion and the policies their university has implemented in that regard? Twenty-two Independent news outlets covering universities and universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands have joined forces to conduct a survey about diversity and inclusion in their institutions. The idea is not only to measure how diverse and inclusive each university is but also assess how Dutch universities compare to each other. Will you take 10 minutes to answer the questionnaire?
The survey is an initiative of the Council of Editors-in-chief of Higher Education Media. Its chair, Ries Agterberg, explains the choice of topic: “Diversity is a hot topic inside and outside higher education. Opinions vary when it comes to the need of certain diversity policies and, if they are necessary, how far they should go. Is higher education taking it too far or not far enough? The Dutch Minister of Justice recently stated that “wokism” is threatening academic freedom, for instance. Is that true? With this survey, we’re aiming to find out what students and staff think about this subject.”
The questions the survey intends to answer include: What should the university prioritise in terms of diversity and inclusion, according to students and staff? What do they think about the policies implemented so far, such as gender-neutral toilets. And where is room for improvement?
In 2020, there was a heated debate in the Dutch Parliament concerning a National Plan on Diversity & Inclusion. Generally speaking, there were two lines of thought. One said that you should not pay attention to diversity and origins as it should only be about quality. The other said that quality sometimes does not shine through as certain people are disadvantaged. What are the opinions of the students and staff?
More than collecting opinions, the survey also invites respondents to share their experiences. “Do certain students and employees feel excluded or discriminated against? If so, do they know where to turn to?”
In addition to the survey, the Council of Editors-in-Chief of Higher Education Media is also conducting its own inquiries into the policies of their institutions. What do their Executive Boards prioritise? The survey will therefore be useful in determining whether there is a discrepancy between what management thinks is important in terms of diversity and inclusion and what the students and staff think about the topic.
The initiative was made possible thanks to the Fund to Stimulate Journalism, an organisation looking to support and improve journalistic production in the Netherlands. The Council of Editors-in-Chief has received 100,000 euros to conduct the study. The questionnaire has been devised by a think tank comprising members of all the outlets involved and put together by the research bureau Newcom. All answers will be anonymous, but respondents may share their contact details with the journalists of their institutions if they are interested in talking more about this question.
To answer the survey, click here for students. The questionnaire will remain open until October 20. The results will be revealed in a series of articles later this year.