Universiteiten laten hun babyboom-alumni links liggen

2013 Jan 27

In Nederland zijn 191.000 babyboomers, geboren in de periode van 1946 tot 1956, die een academische opleiding hebben genoten (volgens peiling CBS beroepsbevolking in 2011). Voor velen van hen is er sprake van het ingaan van een nieuwe levensfase. Een soort van renaissance waarin het voor hen geboden is zichzelf opnieuw uit te vinden. Zij hebben nog lang niet het gevoel dat zij klaar zijn met leren. Velen besluiten nu te doen wat zij altijd al hadden willen doen maar wat zij tot nu toe niet hebben gedaan. Daarnaast ontdekken zij bij zichzelf de sterker wordende wens voor anderen iets positiefs te betekenen.

 

 

 

 

 

Wat ligt er meer voor de hand dan dat de universiteiten op de vragen en ambities van hun babyboom-alumni inspelen? Dit is evenwel niet het geval. Universiteiten laten hun babyboom-alumni als specifieke categorie links liggen. Dit betoogt Geert Sanders op 28 januari aanstaande tijdens zijn oratie aan de Nyenrode Business Universiteit.

De titel van zijn oratie luidt: De waarde van levenslang – wat universiteiten en babyboom-alumni voor elkaar kunnen betekenen. “Voor Nederlandse universiteiten hebben babyboom-alumni niet of nauwelijks een eigen gezicht; zij maken een (tamelijk) anoniem onderdeel uit van de alumni in het algemeen. Dit in tegenstelling tot een aantal Amerikaanse topuniversiteiten. Van hen valt veel te leren over hoe de relatie tussen hen en hun babyboom-alumni er een is van aan elkaar waarde toevoegen”.

Veel Amerikaanse universiteiten verstaan de kunst om tijdens de opleiding van studenten al te beginnen met de uitvoering van alumnibeleid. Het worden van alumnus is de laatste fase van een proces dat zich in de studieperiode afspeelt. Hoe hoogwaardiger het verloop van dit proces is, hoe hoogwaardiger de kwaliteit van de relatie met alumni zal zijn. Genoemde universiteiten beschouwen hun afgestudeerden als ambassadeurs, op welke latere rol zij hen tijdens hun studie al nadrukkelijk voorbereiden.

Omdat de wisselwerking bij genoemde Amerikaanse universiteiten tussen hen en hun alumni zo gedegen is verankerd, zijn die universiteiten uitstekend in staat zich te verplaatsen in de leefsituaties van hun babyboom-alumni. Hierbij hebben zij ontdekt dat er in de wisselwerking tussen de babyboomers en de universiteit voor beide kanten veel is te winnen. De babyboomers kunnen zich oriënteren op programma's en projecten aan de universiteit die hen aanspreken. De universiteit kan hierop inhaken door hen terug te halen naar de voor hen vertrouwde plekken en aan hen de inspiratie en informatie te verschaffen waar zij behoefte aan hebben. Geslaagde interacties leiden ertoe dat babyboom-alumni zich graag laten betrekken in campagnes voor fondsenwerving waarin zij vervolgens zelf als donoren participeren.

Wat betekent dit voor de Nederlandse universiteiten? Sanders: “Ontwikkel een beleid dat specifiek op babyboom-alumni is gericht, ook al heeft het aan de kant van de universiteit ontbroken aan continuïteit in het onderhouden van de relatie met hen sinds zij zijn afgestudeerd. Mits goed uitgevoerd, is een herkansing met betrekking tot relatieopbouw altijd mogelijk”. Volgens Sanders zijn voor Nederlandse universiteiten hun babyboom-alumni te beschouwen als ‘laag hangend fruit’. Voorwaarde is wel dat de universiteiten hen op een open en vraaggestuurde wijze benaderen;  en dat zij hen uitnodigen voor het doen van gezamenlijke exploraties van elkaars werelden en van wat de ene partij aan de andere heeft te bieden en vice versa.

Concreet adviseert hij de universiteiten om via focusgroepen te onderzoeken op welke wijzen de universiteit vanuit haar ‘core business’ relevant voor haar babyboom-alumni kan zijn. “Ga hierbij uit van wat al bekend is over de zelfbeleving van de babyboom-alumni en van wat hen drijft en boeit”. Verder raadt hij aan om de babyboom-alumni bewust te maken van manieren waarop zij voor hun universiteiten zoal van waarde kunnen zijn. “Geef bijvoorbeeld de toppers onder hen de gelegenheid studenten van Honoursprogramma’s te inspireren om het allerbeste uit henzelf te halen. Breng bij hen verder het besef aan dat zij ook via donaties iets terug kunnen doen voor hun universiteit waarmee zij zich zo geëngageerd voelen”.

Kansen te over die nu niet door Nederlandse universiteiten systematisch worden benut.

Nadere informatie is te verkrijgen bij Geert Sanders, telefonisch te bereiken onder 06 51495261.
Geert Sanders is lid van de raad van adves van FORMEDIA.

 

 

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