Quality agreements − decentralized participation council
Which rights do you, as a decentralized participation council, have when it comes to the quality agreements? That depends on whether your institution has chosen to arrange quality agreements either at a centralized or decentralized level. In both cases, you play an important role and you have to be attentive to various things.
- Centralized, decentralized or both?
- Rights of the decentralized participation council
- Focus areas for centralized consenting rights
- Focus areas for decentralized or shared consenting rights
- Five tips
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The institutional board establishes quality agreements in cooperation with the participation council. The board may develop plans, in accordance with the sector agreements, at the centralized level (institutional level) or the decentralized level (faculty-, domain-, academic-, or educational program level). Many institutions opted for a combination of both. It is agreed upon, however, that the right to consent lies with the participation council at the level where the money for the quality agreements is being allocated.
Many institutions opted for a big decentralized influence on spending. Therefore, the decentralized participation council plays an important role. But even if consenting rights are held at the central level, the decentralized involvement is of pivotal importance. The goal of the quality agreements is to improve education for the students. The decentralized participation council often has a good grasp on the local education quality and thus also on the implementation of the quality agreements.
The decentralized participation council always plays an important role in the process of quality agreements. As such, the participation council may always request information regarding the implementation of quality agreements at the decentralized level. The board or the dean is required to provide the requested information, or to demonstrate why the council would not need said information. This right can be used, for instance, to get a more detailed picture about how the funding for quality purposes is being spent. This is of particular importance if the right to consent is held at the decentralized level. Apart from that, the decentralized participation council may always provide solicited and unsolicited advice to the board.
Are you not sure whether quality agreements are worked out at a centralized or decentralized level at your institution? Check with the board or a policy officer.
Right to facilitation
The decentralized participation council must be facilitated in formulating a well-informed opinion. This can be done, for instance, via training sessions, consultation with the central participation council, or an induction program. The more knowledge available to the council, the stronger its position becomes. Because of the right to consent, it is of importance to the board to sufficiently inform the participation council prior to important moments in the process. If insufficient information has been provided, the participation council may always invoke their right to information. In addition, the decentralized participation council may always provide solicited and unsolicited advice to the board.
The decentralized participation council holds the right to consent to the outlines of the budget. The quality agreements are a part of these outlines. Be careful to ensure that the board reserves the same amount for the quality agreements as is stated in the agreements of the plan.
In case problems arise with the agreements, monitoring, or the process of the quality agreements, please report this to the central participation council. The council encompasses a discussion partner to the institutional board, which holds the final responsibility for the quality process of the entire institution.
Focus areas for centralized consenting rights
If the right to consent to the quality agreements is held at the centralized level, you - as the decentralized participation council - comprise an important source of knowledge for the central participation council. You monitor and evaluate the process and content of the quality agreements.
Stay in touch with the central participation council about the implementation of the plans in order for the outcomes to remain visible to the student. In case you do not observe progress in the established plans, report this to the central participation council. They may then decide to enter a dialogue with the institutional board.
The central participation council has the right to annually report on the process and progress of the quality plans in a separate chapter of the annual report. The decentralized participation council can proactively provide their input for this chapter.
Focus areas for decentralized consenting rights
If the decentralized participation council holds a (shared) right to consent to the quality agreements, it holds the most impactful right that a participation body can have. If the board either intentionally or unintentionally deviates from the plans, it is required to involve the participation council. If discrepancies arise, the participation council may bring this to the attention of the board.
- Utilize the knowledge of your predecessors. They are often able to tell you a lot about what has happened in previous years in terms of quality agreements. Make sure that your participation body reports sufficiently for your own successors.
- The amount of advances of study funds increases annually. The precise amounts per year are known to your institution and can for instance be found in the outline of the budget. Include these in the multi-year budget of the process plan. This may be very useful for the process of transferring to the next generation of participation members and provides clarity regarding the amount to which you give your consent.
- Do not hesitate to provide unsolicited advice to your board about the quality agreements. Apart from the right to consent, this comprises the most powerful tool you can employ.
- In the cases of both the right of consultation and the right to information, the board is required to respond, and to argue why it decides not to follow an advice given by the central participation or why it refuses to provide requested information. Therefore, make sure that the board complies with these requirements.
- The participation council must be able to properly prepare for consenting to the outlines of the budget, as well as for other moments of consent. The participation council must be provided sufficient information in a timely fashion in order to make a well-informed decision. In case discrepancies arise within the finances or implementation of the quality agreements, the participation must be informed about this and be provided an explanation. For this reason, it is important to make sure that you are aware of what ‘timely’ means at your institution. In most cases, this is stated in the decentralized regulations.