Amsterdam Univ. students, staff to get an extra week of holiday

University of Amsterdam
University of AmsterdamPhoto: sergio_pulp/DepositPhotos

Students and educators at the University of Amsterdam will get an extra vacation week added to their calendar starting with the 2020-2021 academic year. The free week will take place every year at the end of April or early May beginning in 2021.

The decision follows years of complaints from professors and their pupils following the introduction of the 8-8-4 system, where a semester is broken down into two study periods of eight weeks followed by one of four. The ten-year-old system has led to claims that students are overworked and often suffer from symptoms of burnout, and that their performance in class is degraded due to the rigorous schedule.

Several lecturers have spoken anonymously to NL Times to say the tight schedule also means they can’t improve their courses or mark papers in a timely manner unless they work substantial amounts of unpaid overtime.

The extra holiday week in April or May was one of the proposals to cut down on academic pressure put forward over two years ago by the university’s Study Success Task Force 2.0. It was run by the leader of the University Committee on Education (UCO), Lucy Wenting.

“During the holiday week, there will be no teaching or testing, including no resits. The week can be used for extracurricular activities on a voluntary basis, such as study trips organised by study associations,” the university said in a statement.

The language used in that quote was nearly identical to the wording of the January 2017 report.

“Various options were explored and presented to the [UCO] among others. In the end the decision was made to select a week linked to the school holidays in the North region,” the university stated.

The holiday week will be on the schedules of all faculties under the university. The university buildings and administrative offices will remain open.

The first new holiday period will take place from May 3 - May 7, 2021, during the fifth study period, the university said.