A broad coalition made up of the Association of Universities (VSNU), universities, unions, students and employees has united for what they are calling a national ‘Day of Alarm’ on April 6. Their goal is: to secure 1.1 billion euros for scientific education and research.
According to the organisers, an investment to the tune of 1.1 billion is ‘crucial’ to guarantee the quality of university education, a figure supported by a recently published PwC report commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The next step is to make the demand known to elected candidates for the House of Representatives.
While the campaign is very serious, it also has playful undertones. There are plans for VSNU chairman Pieter Duisenberg to walk into the Hofvijver (a pond next to the Houses of Parliament) in the Hague to indicate that the sector is drowning.
No corona money
‘For the record: this is not about asking for temporary money because of the corona crisis,’ says UvA professor Rens Bod of action group WOinActie. ‘645 million euros will be given to universities as part of a corona relief package. The 1.1 billion stands apart from this, and is an amount that must be structurally added to the first funding stream each year. It is important that the new candidates for the House of Representatives will ensure the new cabinet honours this amount.’
In his own words, Bod is very pleased all fourteen university boards are now taking part in the campaign, where willingness to take action was initially either ‘fragmented or absent’.
Bod reiterates that the money ought to be allocated directly to the institutions and not via funding clubs such as NWO or via lucrative contract research. ‘The money must go directly to the universities and preferably to the lowest possible level within them, namely the institutes. As far as we are concerned, this should be spent on university lecturers (assistant professors) with teaching and research time, because this has been lacking in recent years: the intertwining of education and research. It has been almost exclusively teachers that have been hired and this has proven to be very problematic for almost all academic fields. Universities are institutions for education and research.’
You can register for the action day at www.normaalacademischpeil.nl.