The diversity policy focuses on three themes:
Diversity and the university as an organization and an employer
In order to become an inclusive environment that promotes creativity and talent, the organization has to meet certain conditions. These relate to the structure of the organization, selection and assessment mechanisms, the organizational climate, opportunities for training and growth. The university will present its own critical review of its organizational structures to identify factors that may inhibit this process. Special attention will be given to supporting PhD students and their supervisors from Africa as part of the Desmond Tutu programme for PhD students who will participate in the joint doctorate programme.
Diversity as a theme in education
The university’s point of view is that each student should be trained to reflect on aspects of diversity in his or her own discipline. Firstly, this involves reflecting on the culture-boundedness of knowledge in a particular field. For example, what does knowledge about dental care mean in cultures where beliefs about dental hygiene are very different from Western conceptions? Secondly this can take the form of developing intercultural competencies in relation to a specific discipline. How can doctors and psychologists interact better with patients from different cultural backgrounds, for instance? We also consider it important that our teaching staff are well-equipped to handle diversity among their students. We will ensure that these issues receive adequate attention in the education that we provide. To teach students to incorporate different cultural perspectives into their analysis of complex social issues, community service and service learning will become part of the education that we provide.
Bicultural students and the training and labour market perspective
The university wishes to increase its cooperation with secondary schools by, for example, establishing a Pre University College. Its purpose is to help first generation first-year students in particular to make the right choices in their academic career - choices that are consistent with their own skills and interests. We also want to initiate activities to ensure that bicultural students are matched effectively with the right study programme. Once they have entered the university, VU University Amsterdam provides students with new kinds of introductory programmes and Summer Schools. These programmes are still under development. To promote the integration of students, it is also important to encourage the balanced participation of bicultural and native students in extracurricular activities.
Good education alone is no guarantee of labour market integration, however. Issues with labour market integration among bicultural students often relate to socialization in the workplace. How do you deal with your preconceptions about others? How can you capitalize on your strengths, without losing your connection with your working environment? The university plans to launch a programme to prepare bicultural students better for such challenges during the final phase of their transition to the workplace. But clearly we cannot address these issues alone: the business community, government organizations, former students and the undergraduates themselves each have their role to play as partners in this process. An area of particular focus should be the transition to an academic career. The number of PhD students with a bicultural background at our university is relatively limited. Currently, an academic career is not always a logical choice after the successful completion of a degree.