Foto: Maarten Hartman

University board UU will not sign #WOinactie petition

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Utrecht university’s Executive Board understands the dissatisfaction that led to the hashtag #WOinactie (freely translated as ‘Higher education into action’), but will not sign the corresponding petition – as opposed to the boards of the UvA, VU, RUG and Maastricht universities.

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The petition, a call for action in higher education to oppose the educational plans the new government presented, has already been signed over 4,000 times. Rens Bod, professor at the University of Amsterdam, started the petition ‘Higher education needs more funds’. He says the coalition agreement disadvantages the quality of higher education and research, and stated that scientists need to let their voices be heard.

It’s not just individuals who speak up in support of the action: the boards of the University of Amsterdam, VU, RUG and Maastricht University also signed the petition. “The entire academic community needs to resist,” said RUG chairman Sibrand Poppema.

Signatures from the UU, but not from its board
At least 100 employees and students at the UU have responded to the call to action made by RethinkUU and have signed the petition. It’s possible the actual number is much higher, as many people sign the petition anonymously. Among those who have signed their name are well-known UU employees, such as chairman of the university council board Fred Toppen, teacher of the year Marc van Mil, and a remarkable number of professors from the Faculty of Humanities, such as Ingrid Robeyns, Geert Buelens, Christian Lange, Els Stronks and Markus Duwell. In the meantime, to the anger of the protesters, the UU’s Executive Board remained silent.

Board feels the same, but won’t support petition
Maarten Post, spokesperson for the Executive Board, says the board members will not sign the petition. Although the board ‘fully’ shares in the feelings of dissatisfaction that are behind the petition, the board also feels “this is not a time for action. That should’ve been done earlier.” Elementary school teachers sprang into action during the formation of the government. “Now, it’s time to talk to the new government.” The UU’s statement conforms to the stance of the VSNU (Association of Universities). VSNU chairman Pieter Duisenberg stated last week that he wants more funding for higher education, too, but a protest like this wasn’t the way to go about it.

Rector Bert van der Zwaan did write a blog for DUB in which he states he’s ‘pissed off’ about the content of the coalition agreement, mostly objecting to the fact that universities of technology will receive more money than other universities.

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