July 1, 2019 – Deterioration in the quality of research, at least 2,000 redundancies and a serious shortage of professionals in certain professions. WOinActie makes an urgent appeal not to agree with the Minister's plans, but to await the investigation into the adequacy of the macro budget for higher education.
VAWO shares the concerns and hopes, together with WOinActie, that the OCW Committee will not take decisions that harm academic research and education.
30 June 2019
To the Education, Culture and Science Committee of the House of Representatives,
WOinActie has taken careful note of the Van Rijn report and the plans of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) which are based on the recommendations of this report. As an action group that brings together employees and students from all fourteen universities, we would like to point out to the Education Committee that the possible implementation of these plans will harm all studies, not only alpha/gamma/medical but also STEM. With this letter we urge you to take a stand against the implementation of the Minister's plans, for the following reasons:
1. The interdependence of the studies has become so great and far-reaching in recent decades that the shift in resources (from alpha/gamma/medical to STEM) is damaging to the entire house of studies. Especially now, all studies - from the humanities to the technical studies - are desperately needed in order to meet the complex societal challenges. For example, chemists work with ethicists to study the consequences of new chemical substances, thousands of which are added each year. Linguists, together with computer scientists, are researching better models for language processing in artificial intelligence. Together with biologists and physicians, neuropsychologists conduct research into the human brain. And sociologists work with architects on spatial planning in a densely populated country such as the Netherlands. WOinActie therefore states that all academic disciplines must be adequately funded in order for the fruitful and socially important collaborations between the fields of studies to flourish. This is also recognised by the many STEM scientists who have signed the petition "STEM scientists against cuts in other academic areas".
It is precisely this typical Dutch polder cooperation between the academic disciplines for which the Netherlands is so renowned, and which is now in danger of being demolished. This cooperation will come under great pressure if the Minister's proposed measures are implemented and will in many cases disappear, something from which the academic community will only be able to recover after many years. You, the Committee on Education, can prevent this from happening.
2. In addition, the House of Representatives has recently started a study into the adequacy of the macro budget for higher education. WOinActie would like to urge you to wait for the results of this research before taking funding decisions that have such major consequences.
3. The shift in resources means increased pressure on studies such as Dutch, Econometrics, German and General Medicine, to name but a few. There is a great shortage of graduates in these studies. Who can we turn to when there will be no more general practitioner, no teacher of Dutch or German, no psychologist, and no econometrician?
Several parties have calculated that the implementation of these plans will lead to a loss of approximately 2,000 fulltime jobs in these studies, which amounts to at least 2,000 redundancies. While these are courses for occupations that are seriously lacking, and which also otherwise have an important, proven contribution to Dutch studies and society. In addition, the proposed measures will cancel out the promises made to students to improve the quality of education.
In short, the implementation of the Van Rijn report is bad for Dutch education, bad for the Dutch (knowledge) economy, bad for Dutch science, and bad for Dutch society as a whole.