1. Developments in regard to the demerger of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center
Since 1 January 2021, both organisations have been incorporated into their own foundations. The university remains part of Stichting Radboud Universiteit (formerly Stichting Katholieke Universiteit; SKU) and is managed by the existing Executive Board. Radboud university medical center falls under the newly established Radboud University Medical Center Foundation and is managed by the medical centre’s existing Executive Board. Both foundations have their own Supervisory Boards. The idea behind the demerger was that both organisations could respond more effectively to changes and social developments. Daniël Wigboldus, chair of the university’s Executive Board, expressed the added value of the demerger: “As two separate foundations, we now have more room to steer our own courses: as a university in the university context and as an academic centre in the context of health care. At the same time, we are more connected than ever to the medical faculty. It may seem counterintuitive, but the demerger has given us more room to work together on content.”
In the demerger of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center, we agreed to consult each other for at least four years in the Board of Executive Cooperation (CBS) Radboud University – Radboud university medical center. The CBS discusses joint initiatives and mutual services, among other things. The university and the medical centre inform each other promptly and as fully as possible about matters relevant to each other. The CBS met four times in 2022. The University’s Executive Board and the Executive Board of Radboud university medical center noted in the annual review that the demerger has allowed the agenda to be more focused on content. In 2022, joint discussions included the various growth fund initiatives, campus developments at Heyendael and in Nijmegen, regional cooperation, both institutions’ diversity policies and the joint research-support initiative Healthy Data. In addition, the boards in the CBS frequently exchanged views on the joint strategy of the two institutions. At the end of 2022, there was a concrete mindset for this, which will be further embodied in 2023.
2. Dialogue process for identity
In the run-up to Radboud University’s centenary, several dialogue sessions were held about the university’s identity in 2022. The key question was what kind of university we want to be, taking into account our roots, our mission and our core values (connected, curious and reflective). How do we embody our special status as a university that emerged from the Catholic emancipation movement at the start of the twentieth century, and what is the significance of that? And what role do our rituals and symbols play in this?
Staff and students, as well as alumni, stakeholders and other involved parties, engaged in a dialogue about this, asking themselves what the university’s mission, roots and core values mean to them personally. During the dialogue sessions, three main themes emerged as characteristic of our university: emancipation and the university’s emancipatory roots, social commitment and responsibility, and an atmosphere of community and connectedness.
Engaging in an open dialogue about our identity was seen as characteristic of Radboud University: providing space on campus to really exchange views with a variety of opinions. The fact that our university holds this kind of dialogue is characteristic of our institution (since 1923). The story of 100 years of Radboud University is perceived as a special story, one that can be told and shared much more widely to that it can provide direction for the future as well. The theme of focusing on the other and ‘togetherness’ rather than focusing on oneself is typical in this regard.
“Let us not egocentrically lock ourselves up in our own world and stare ourselves blind at our individual interests, but instead realise that we have a calling, one that brings great joy to our existence: that is to make others happy”
There is also a desire to more strongly share and publicise the rich meaning and context of our university’s rituals and symbols. In the dialogue process, the participants called for a stronger externalisation of the private perspective from which we work as a university (the ‘specialness’, our ‘roots’ and values) with a universal orientation, an open, inclusive and outward gaze.
A multicoloured story about what we as Radboud University stand for emerged from the dialogue sessions. In the December edition of Radboud Magazine, which focused on the theme of Identity, this was highlighted and widely distributed. The dialogue process will come to an end in the coming year, and the final results will be shared with the public.
Canonisation of Titus Brandsma
On 4 March 2022, Pope Francis announced the canonisation of Nijmegen professor and priest Titus Brandsma (Bolsward 1881 - Dachau 1942). A delegation from Radboud University was present in Rome for the official canonisation on 15 May. Brandsma was Rector Magnificus and Professor of Philosophy at our university – known then as the Catholic University of Nijmegen. Titus Brandsma was beatified in 1985, and in 2005 he was chosen as Nijmegen’s Greatest Citizen of All Time.
Rector Magnificus Han van Krieken: “We see the canonisation of Titus Brandsma as an exceptional recognition of his life, which was lived in the service of his faith as well as his concern for his fellow human beings, and which was characterised by his high moral standards and courage. Brandsma was an advocate for justice and truth in society. For him, the common good always took priority over self-interest and prestige. He fought against a system of oppression, discrimination, lack of freedom and inhumanity. In that, he is an example for many, up until this very day.” Seven academics from Radboud University, the Faculty of Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Titus Brandsma Institute authored the book ‘Titus Brandsma: From Hero to Saint’. Various ceremonies and activities also took place in and around the university in honour of the canonisation.
The structure of the university organisation, the division of tasks and the working method of the university – and within it the faculties and units – are set out in the governance model, which was revised in 2021. It describes the tasks and responsibilities of the Executive Board, also in relation to the Supervisory Board and the role of the participational bodies. In addition, it describes the way education and research are organised within the faculties and units.
In the budget discussions for 2022, all faculties and units submitted a plan and discussed with the Executive Board how they would implement adjustments in the coming years to fully comply with the new governance model. In 2022, the progress of the plans was discussed during the administrative consultations.
Academic higher education and research at Radboud University are carried out in seven faculties. The faculty’s Executive Board leads and manages the faculty and charts the course of the faculty as a whole. The dean acts as chair of the board and is supported by the secretary, who also prepares for the meetings. The student assessor attends the meetings as an adviser. Students and staff contribute to the quality of administrative decisions by playing an active role in participational bodies at the university (central) level, faculty (local) level, and study programme level. The university offers various training courses to members of the participational bodies and programme committees to optimally prepare them for their roles.
Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies Heleen Murre-van den Berg
Faculty of Arts: Margot van Mulken (succeeded by José Sanders in March)
Nijmegen School of Management: Tom Elfring
Faculty of Medical Sciences: Jan Smit
Faculty of Science: Sijbrand de Jong
Faculty of Law: Roel Schutgens
Faculty of Social Sciences: Michiel Kompier (succeeded by Evelyn Kroesbergen in August)
Planning and control cycle
The starting point of the university’s planning and control cycle is the policy letter in early spring, setting out the content and financial frameworks for the new budget year. In the autumn, the faculties and other units submit their (multi-year) budgets (including policy intentions) to the Executive Board and the budget discussions take place. The Executive Board then submits the university budget and the governance agenda to the participational bodies. They have the right of consent to the main points in the university budget. The budget is then approved by the Supervisory Board.
The university reports on its activities each year by publishing the annual report. The same procedure as above is used here: the units prepare their own annual reports, after which the faculties submit their annual reports to the Executive Board. After conducting the annual report discussions, the university annual report is submitted for information to the participational bodies and is approved by the Supervisory Board.
During the year, the development of a number of indicators is periodically monitored, including some related to education, research, staff, students and finances. If necessary, interim adjustments are made based on these data.
4. Risk management
Radboud University sees risks as events that can be controlled with careful consideration. However, this does not mean that we necessarily avoid all risks. Risks are assessed in relation to the strategy and objectives of the university. In order to achieve the university’s strategy, it is sometimes necessary to take certain risks in a deliberate and controlled manner, while deliberately avoiding or mitigating other risks. Risk management is an integral part of the planning and control cycle.
Radboud University has a risk management policy based on the ISO 31000 Risk Management Framework.
The approach developed for risk management is shown in the diagram below.
Risks are inherent in organisational action. Adequate risk management is rooted in hard controls (e.g. governance, processes, procedures and guidelines) and in soft controls (e.g. culture and behaviour).
In 2022, the faculties translated the Radboud University strategy, ‘A Significant Impact’ (adopted in 2019), into faculty-level strategies. Risk management was an important point of attention. In 2022, the university again discussed the most important risks for realising the faculty strategies and the necessary control measures together with the faculties and institutes. A risk management session per organisational unit has been scheduled for 2023 to jointly reflect on key risks and associated control measures.
We also conducted a dialogue about risk appetite, which is the degree to which the university is prepared to take risks to achieve its strategic objectives. This involves finding the right balance between taking risks and managing risks. A fraud risk analysis was also initiated to make informed choices that contribute to fraud prevention. For this purpose, an initial working session was held with the financial departments in autumn 2022 that included all finance heads of the units. The draft fraud risks they identified form the basis for a risk dialogue with the units. The discussion will focus on the prioritisation of fraud risks within the units. Next, the conversation will start with specialists in divisions about matters that cross unit boundaries.
A risk management action plan was drawn up in late 2022. In it, we look back at 2022 and look ahead to the actions planned for 2023.
The biggest risks for the university as a whole are included in the overview below. The magnitude of the risks determines their order and is a result of the input from the various organisational units combined with the outcome from the risk management sessions. This is reflected in the risk score, which was determined based on the likelihood and impact of the described risk. Compared to 2021 and the 2022 annual plan, the risks for social safety and property development have increased from a medium risk score to a high risk score.
The risks are related to the strategic objectives as included in ‘Our mission, vision, strategy and key values’ and described in terms of the main external trends and developments that affect the various risks.
External trends and developments
The dependence on ICT was already high and is still increasing. More and more processes are being digitised and – certainly since the pandemic – staff and students are increasingly working and studying off campus. ICT facilities must be available always and everywhere – and safely – regardless of location, time or type of device.
Collaboration with scientists from other universities is essential for high-quality, interdisciplinary research. This requires a technical infrastructure that facilitates international exchange and is as open as possible. At the same time, we see that the number of cybercrime threats is increasing; targeted and sophisticated attacks on Radboud University are a regular occurrence. Particular risks are posed by hacks, phishing and (other) ransomware attacks (e.g. system failure, theft of personal data, and compromised scientific data integrity).
That leads to a constant search for balance between openness on the one hand and security on the other, which sometimes impedes openness. Digital security requires policy (frameworks), awareness of staff and students, a Radboud-wide security organisation (governance), monitoring of all network traffic and the latest technical measures.
More and more services are being provided from the cloud. An important consideration in the cloud transition is the processing of academic data and employees’ and students’ personal data by cloud service providers.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a distant prospect but part of the services we purchase from large suppliers, such as the online collaboration environment Microsoft 365. Within education, ChatGPT (AI) has been in the spotlight since November 2022. ChatGPT can do things like help to answer complex questions and brainstorm, automatically summarise, write text and programming code, and correct language errors. The technology is (currently) freely available. AI is also increasingly being used in the research domain. To protect our employees’ and students’ personal data and our scientific data, it is crucial that we limit the use of AI to areas where it is in the best interest of Radboud University (e.g. research) and our employees and students.
International collaboration in science and higher education offers many opportunities. At the same time, it is also important that we as knowledge institutions remain alert to possible risks of foreign interference, misuse of knowledge or ethical issues related to the application of research results. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has developed a Knowledge Security Service Desk for this purpose. In addition, the Dutch knowledge sector as a whole collaborated with the national government to develop the National Guideline for Knowledge Security. Radboud University will use this guideline to sharpen and deepen our own policy. A knowledge security coordinator and the knowledge security advisory team will pick this up.
Developments in the job market
Attracting, developing and retaining staff is essential to achieving our education and research goals and to running a healthy business in all its facets, from both a quantitative and qualitative point of view. Economic growth, an ageing population and a ‘talent mismatch’ have led to scarcity in the job market. As a result, competition on the job market is fierce and is expected to increase further in the coming years.
Being an attractive employer is becoming the most important driver to retain employees. Continuous development in the field of knowledge and skills is becoming essential for the university, as is making career paths transparent. This is how talent development and mobility come together in sustainable employability.
Diversity is also receiving increasing social attention. Connectedness, equality and ‘belonging’ become guiding principles in terms of being an attractive employer. Being an inclusive organisation is an increasingly important factor for an organisation’s success worldwide. Employees who feel safe and included in the team and organisation are more productive and innovative and perform better.
A ‘diverse’ employee base in all respects contributes to this, but diversity does not end at increasing the inflow of female professors or increasing cultural diversity. A crucial element is working towards a safe, inclusive work environment where people can be themselves and bring out the best in themselves and others.
Societal perceptions of social safety and what behaviour is perceived as appropriate have changed significantly over the past year. Being able to maintain a dialogue to prevent polarisation requires attention and courage from everyone. Self-reliance and resilience become part of the development of our staff and of the young adults we want to prepare for their role in society during their studies.
The combination of working from home and working on campus has become more established over the past year. Work is increasingly organised along the lines of the activity to be carried out, who is needed in the collaboration and where the activity can best be performed. With these experiences in mind, the question is how employees can stay engaged with the organisation, feel at home and identify with the organisation. After all, connecting with people significantly contributes to the organisation’s success. In addition to the existing and familiar, new forms of connection are taking their place. In collaboration with behavioural scientists and others, developments are being monitored, as is the impact of the new forms of collaboration, learning and identification with the organisation’s culture and identity.
In 2022, international geopolitical developments (the war in Ukraine, the relationship with China) coupled with high inflation in the Eurozone still had little direct impact on the university. When war broke out in Ukraine, a crisis team was quickly set up to act as a point of contact internally and externally. This team coordinated policy and communication to students and staff from Ukraine and Russia, and it managed how the national policy from the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) for collaborations with Ukraine and Russia translated to Radboud University.
UNL developed a guideline to reduce institutional tuition fees for Ukrainian students to the statutory rate. Discussions are ongoing between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and UNL about a structural solution. In addition, the Emergency Fund provides emergency support of a temporary nature for students with financial difficulties.
High inflation in the Netherlands led the cabinet to decide to adjust statutory tuition fees by a lower amount than inflation for 2023–2024, although it was not yet clear to what extent the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science would compensate the university for this lower revenue. In late 2022, internationalisation in higher education became a prominent item on the political agenda of the House of Representatives. Political pressure to immediately stop the active recruitment of international students directly affected Radboud University’s activities in this field and the fulfilment of the goals and direction from Radboud University’s strategy.
In 2022, the enrolment and total number of students at Radboud University decreased slightly. There also seems to be a decline nationwide, but exact national figures will not be available until 2023. It is not clear at present whether the small decline is a national trend or whether it is related to demographic shrinkage in the region. The university has prepared a multi-year analysis of student market share trends. The projected regional shrinkage is a demographic factor for the university. Statistics Netherlands (2020) projects that the total population of the Netherlands will exceed 19 million in 2038, and the reference projection from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (2021) predicts a 15% increase in the total number of university students in the next 15 years. However, in Radboud University’s primary recruitment areas (Gelderland, Noord-Brabant, Limburg) there will be a decrease in the number of secondary education pupils (and thereby also the number of potential students) until 2035, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.
Academic integrity, quality assurance and knowledge security
(Academic) integrity is crucial, both for ensuring high-quality research and education and for maintaining a safe and healthy organisational culture. Ensuring and promoting social safety and academic integrity are important and ongoing concerns for Radboud University. In the area of academic integrity, the focus includes implementing and complying with the Dutch Code of Conduct for Academic Integrity. This includes increasing our staff’s awareness of the principles of academic integrity, promoting awareness and discussion of the subject, and making it easier to find and access confidential advisors and the Academic Integrity Committee.
In society, emancipation movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter are creating more openness about undesirable behaviour and systematic disadvantage. The lack of social safety is a persistent problem. A similar dialogue about how we want to treat each other is taking place at the university. In consultation and collaboration, the faculties of Radboud University have identified social safety as a focal point. There is support and commitment at all levels of the organisation to further strengthen social safety.
The report from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, ‘Social Safety in Dutch Academia: From Paper to Practice’, forms the basis for this effort.
Developments such as climate change, resource scarcity, nitrogen problems and biodiversity loss pose major challenges on a global scale. Taking care of the world around us is increasingly higher on the agenda. For example, agreements have been made at the European level to combat climate change and reduce CO2 emissions. In 2019, the European Commission presented the Green Deal, and the EU Member States agreed that the EU must ultimately be climate neutral by 2050. Climate policy has also been enacted in the Netherlands to meet those goals, as have policies on raw materials. The Netherlands wants to have a circular economy by 2050. The first target set by the government-wide programme for a Circular Dutch Economy in 2050 is halving primary raw materials consumption by 2030. Organisations are also increasingly expected to take responsibility for their supply chains. At the end of 2021, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation announced the imminent introduction of new national legislation on international corporate social responsibility. Radboud University also influences its environment – both positively and negatively – through our activities.
European regulations requiring large organisations to account for this in their annual reports are increasing with the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.
Connecting with society is increasingly important. In education, civil society is playing a growing role in the content of study programmes. In research, there is a growing emphasis on collaboration in public-private consortia in order to attract indirect government funding and contract funding for research. The university has been asked to make the social impact of research and innovation more visible.
In the coming years, the university will strongly invest in maintenance, renovation and new construction. The Radboud University campus plan constitutes the translation of the campus strategy into concrete construction and renovation projects and programmes up to 2030. It also provides a glimpse further into the future, up to 2040. The main focus here is that the campus is primarily a place for education and research, but also for various forms of business activity, housing, culture and sport.
The government scaled back most COVID-19 measures in spring 2022. However, the impact of the crisis on student wellbeing will remain a major concern in the coming years. The university’s vision of offering education in person as much as possible meant that by September 2022, almost all education was again offered only in person.
With the agreement of the UGV, a COVID-19 sector plan was adopted in October 2022 in which the university prepared for any worsening of the situation.
5. Knowledge Security
Last year, Radboud University started systematically embedding knowledge security in the organisation. The ultimate goal: to allow international collaboration to take place in a deliberate manner, taking into account both the opportunities and risks involved. A programme manager for Knowledge Security has been appointed to work with a programme group on embedding this mindset.
In a letter dated 4 April 2022, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science instructed all Dutch universities to 1) implement the National Guideline for Knowledge Security, 2) conduct a risk assessment related to knowledge security, and 3) report on it to the Supervisory Board. Radboud University got started quickly.
First, we assessed the current state of knowledge security. Priorities were then set based on that assessment. The risk assessment was based on a nationally developed framework, the Framework for Knowledge Security for universities from the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL).
A report on the risks associated with knowledge security was submitted to the Supervisory Board in October 2022. This report also contains recommendations about necessary measures. In addition, the Supervisory Board was informed about actions already taken and those yet to be taken.
What have we already done?
The chair of the Executive Board has been appointed portfolio holder for knowledge security, and a Knowledge Security Advisory Team has been set up. In addition, staffing capacity has been made available for a Knowledge Security Policy Officer: a new position to be filled from 1-2-2023.
Frameworks, guides and procedures
Based on the example in the UNL framework, a decision table was developed that provides a ‘mandate structure’ for international collaborations: at what level is a decision taken and which attributes does it relate to? The decision table provides a guide for assessing proposals to engage in international collaborations so the appropriate advisers can be involved and the decision to be taken is presented to the right decisionmakers. The Executive Board took a preliminary decision on the decision table at the end of 2022. After consultation with the bodies of deans, the Directors of Education and the Directors of Research, a final decision will follow in 2023.
In 2022, Radboud University also actively contributed to a national project involving five universities: Radboud University, the University of Groningen, Delft University of Technology, Utrecht University and the University of Twente. In the UNL context, tools were developed to help researchers and support staff enter into, implement and evaluate international collaborations. More than 15 tools (known as quick guides) have been prepared, providing concrete guidance on how to implement many of the recommendations from the National Knowledge Security Guide. Some examples of quick guides are: academic integrity, incoming delegations, due diligence, legal agreements, negotiation, and considerations during travel. The quick guides will be made available to all universities through UNL in the first quarter of 2023.
The National Guideline for Knowledge Security calls for (setting up) a central overview of collaborations with partners and clients from outside the EU, funding and foreign PhD candidates and guest researchers, so the board has an overview of the state of affairs at all times. A number of recommendations have now been made at Radboud University to achieve the desired central overview.
One recommendation from the aforementioned report to the Supervisory Board is to adopt an integrated approach to the design of risk management around knowledge security that is in line with other risk management at Radboud University. The Radboud risk management toolkit is not yet in place. The intention is to arrive at a workable set of instruments in which knowledge security also has its place by 2023.
Embedding knowledge security requires awareness at all levels of Radboud University, down to the level of the individual staff member. After all, collaboration often starts with an individual researcher who has international contacts. Communication helps raise awareness, so a communication plan was drawn up in summer 2022. The core message: ‘Share knowledge when you can and protect knowledge when you have to’.
Further details about the actions in the above five areas is included in the 2023 Knowledge Security master plan, which the programme group adopted in December 2022.
6. Codes of conduct and internal conventions
With regard to integrity and conduct, Radboud University applies codes of conduct and conventions that include:
Academic integrity regulations
Regulations on undesirable behaviour
Ancillary activities regulations
General rules for Radboud University/Radboud university medical center regarding knowledge protection and exploitation
Regulations on the use of the Radboud University network and SURFnet
Declaration instructions for staff members
Provisions in the Collective Labour Agreement universities
UNL Code for Good Governance in Dutch Universities
UNL Social Safety Statement
Code of Conduct on ‘Animal Testing Transparency’