Stories#091 Tom’s practical policy plans

#091 Tom’s practical policy plans

The story of Alice’s key to data is a story of Tom’s practical policy plans

When it comes to data management, Alice Nikuze has a key position at UT. Being a data steward, she ensures that research data is properly kept and stored. Fellow staff-member Tom Boogerd has just exchanged his traineeship for a position as a policy advisor. What has he learned so far, and how does he want to put his ideals and ambitions into practice? ‘We want to challenge the notion that the Dutch way is the only right way.’

Click for Dutch version

Monday 10 october 2022 

Alice: ‘Hi Tom, my name is Alice Nikuze. As a data steward, I primarily work for ITC, but also for the faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences (BMS). That’s where you are working, right?’

Tom: ‘Yes! I think we’ll be working closer together soon, because you are interviewing me at a change moment in my career. Until recently, I did a two-year-traineeship at BMS faculty. But after a year, I got the opportunity to switch to a more permanent job. I’ve just started as policy advisor research.’

Alice: ‘Nice, congratulations! What did you do as a trainee?’

Tom: ‘The thing I’m most proud of, is my work on internationalization. I helped translate the UT vision "International Dimensions" to a BMS internationalisation strategy. What do the university’s ambitions mean for us? You know, internationalization is not just about speaking English or attracting international students and employees. It’s also about the signage on campus, the food in the canteens and our research partnerships.

At BMS, a lot is already happening. So we wanted to formalize our activities, and make more strategic choices. We organized stakeholder sessions, where we invited people from throughout the faculty to ask them about their opinion. Where do they think we can improve?

In class, for example, we want to challenge the notion that the Dutch way is the only right way. If you study civil engineering, it’s interesting to learn about the Dutch system to protect our coast line – the Delta Works. But it’s evenly interesting to know there’s a similar system in Venice. By the way... I assume you’re an international employee as well, am I right?’

“The diversification of perspectives improves our research”
Tom Boogerd

Alice: ‘Yes, I’m from Rwanda – although I just became a Dutch citizen! I have to say, I sometimes hear people have negative perceptions on UT’s internationalization goals. Some people feel in some cases internationals are not recruited because they are from abroad, regardless their talents. Have you heard this feedback?’

Tom: ‘Yeah, the story has been around me indeed. But I don’t agree. I thoroughly believe that as a knowledge institution, we need many different perspectives among us. In terms of specialisms, but also in terms of geographic and cultural backgrounds. If we’d have only Dutch students and researchers, our vision on the world would be too narrow. The diversification of perspectives makes us a stronger faculty. It improves our research.’

Alice: ‘I saw you also worked on teacher professionalization. In my job, I sometimes give workshops and classes, and I’d like to improve my teaching skills. What can you tell me about this?’

Tom: ‘Well, my involvement was mostly about improving the process. I helped the BMS Teaching Academy with setting up a framework for teacher professionalization.

You know, all teachers at UT have to obtain their University Teacher Qualification (UTQ). That’s obligatory, but after that, it’s up to you to keep developing yourself. We wanted to help teachers with that, by providing an overview of all possibilities. There are many courses and masterclasses you can take at UT, but of course, you have to be able to find them. So we set up a newsletter and improved our website.’ 

Alice: ‘It’s a good thing to hear UT wants to support teachers in this way. There’s always so many things going on, and you just can’t keep up with everything on your own.’ 

Tom: ‘I totally agree. We ask a lot from UT employees: they have to work on international classrooms, professionalize themselves, be sustainable, be inclusive. Those are all good things, but employees need support if you want them to execute your ambitions and goals. By providing them the right information, give time compensation, or think along with them. That’s what we are for, as UT staff. What about you? Do researchers and students know to find you when they have questions about data management?’

“We often write ‘he/she’, where we could also say ‘they’”
Tom Boogerd

Alice: ‘Yes! I started last December, and now, more and more people know who I am, and what I can help them with. Hey Tom, I read you’re also working on a more inclusive campus. Being a social scientist, I know the concept of inclusion is very broad. What exactly are you focussing on?’

Tom: ‘I’m part of Think With Pride, an UT-organisation for both staff members and students. We organize activities for LGBTQ+-people. And this coming year, I also want to have an impact on our policy. I’m collaborating with HR policy advisor Michael Neys. We’re thinking about the actions we can take to make our campus a better place for LGBTQ+ people.

Alice: ‘Is the UT campus not a good place for them right now, in your experience? What ideas do you have to improve it?’

Tom: ‘Well, a lot of good things are happening already. I have a boyfriend myself, and when I tell people around me about him, people react the same way as they would with a hetero couple. And I’m very happy to see there are many initiatives to make the campus more LGBTQ+-friendly. But there’s also room for improvement. Look at maternity leave, for example. A woman gets paid leave if she is having a baby, but what if two men are having a child? Another thing is our use of pronouns. We often write ‘he/she’, where we could also say ‘they’.'

“For me, the success lies in translating policy into continuous action”
Tom Boogerd

Alice: ‘It’s clear that you’re thinking as a policy advisor already, I love it! And I really enjoyed talking to you, Tom. One last question: what do you hope to achieve in your new job?’

Tom: ‘It actually has a lot of challenging themes: from open science and measuring impact, to the upcoming midterm evaluation. So first, I’ll have to prioritize. You can write a new policy and have it approved, but then it’s still just a pdf document. For me, the success lies in translating policy into continuous action. If I manage to do that, I’ll be very content. But that’s all I can say right now. Let’s get back to this in a month or so, over a cup of coffee!’

Alice: ‘Good idea. I will also introduce you to my colleagues who are working on similar topics. See you soon!’

Alice Nikuze (1985)

was born in Rwanda and studied Civil Engineering at the University of Rwanda. She became part of the UT community in 2014, when she came to Enschede for her Master’s in Geo-information Science and Earth Observation, specialising in Urban Planning. She graduated Cum Laude and continued her academic career as a PhD candidate. While being in the home stretch for her PhD, Alice is a parttime research data steward at UT.

Tom Boogerd (1998)

is a Policy Advisor Research at the BMS Research Support Office. He obtained his master’s degree in Industrial Design Engineering at UT, and was a trainee on Internationalisation and at the BMS Teaching Academy of the BMS faculty. Next to his job, Tom works on a more inclusive campus as a member of Think With Pride, a UT organisation that is committed to LGBTQ+-rights and inclusion on campus.