The Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO) strives for higher education in which student success1 is paramount. This means students grow and develop, both academically and personally, within the space provided to do so. For every student, this will look different. With this, the ISO opposes the long-used term ‘student success’. Higher education institutions are responsible for creating the preconditions for this student success, making it a place where students can develop their skills and talents. The ISO works towards this by making students’ voices heard so that their interests are taken into account in decision-making.
The ISO pursues this goal on behalf of its member organisations: central participation councils, factions and student unions. This is why the ISO puts participation centre stage. Good participation culture at every institution is essential for it’s proper functioning. Through early involvement in the decision-making process, information provision and the right of consent and initiative, the councils give students a voice. To promote this democratic ideal, the educational institution has a responsibility to provide adequate support to the participation process – at central and decentralised levels. The ISO also feels responsible for its member organisations, for whom it provides knowledge, support and a meeting place.
Student success is all about the student and the investment they make in themselves. Important is the realisation that not every student has the same starting position in this. Adequate funding helps promote equity by improving and equalising students’ income position, among other things. Equal opportunities and accessibility are also considered in the admission to, connection with and progression through higher education. Society also invests in students. A higher education geared to student success is based on an adequate funding system in which the student, not the yield, is central. Society thus invests in education and research that meets the needs of the labour market, society and science.
At the institution, teaching and teacher quality are basic conditions for student success. The institution is also responsible for a socially safe environment, student welfare, guidance and information, and the provision of facilities that make education accessible to all. Because student success means different things to every student, there is room for different study paths. Nominal study is not a requirement: customisation based on the student’s situation and the pursuit of secondary activities are facilitated. In this context, educational innovations and internationalisation offer opportunities to promote student success and self-development.
With this message, the ISO enters into discussions with politicians, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and various organisations in the education field. In this, the ISO takes a pr agmatic stance, but does not shy away from speaking out: when it comes down to it, taking action is not out of the question. From this constructive stance, the ISO comes up with its own plans and alternatives, and new or underexposed issues are put on the agenda. The ISO’s continuous advocacy focuses on public debate in the media, official processes and politics. By being in dialogue on all fronts, the ISO gives students a voice.
1 “Every student needs something different to be successful and not every student starts from the same
position. Student success means not only being able to graduate within a reasonable time frame, but also
having room for personal development, with attention for student well-being and being able to take control of
one’s own learning.” The Minister of Education, Culture and Science, I.K. van Engelshoven in a letter to the
House of Representatives, Sept. 13, 2019.