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WOinaction presents ultimatum to minister

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WOinaction has presented minister Van Engelshoven with an ultimatum: by Prinsjesdag at the latest, the ‘efficiency cut’ (in Dutch: 'doelmatigheidskorting') will have to be over and done with, or teachers will come in action. Students support the call, and will start organizing events and campaigns this week.

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University of Amsterdam professor Rens Bod of the WOinaction group had announced the ultimatum before, but now, the Prinsjesdag deadline (September 18) has been officially declared with an email and a registered letter to the minister. In the letter, WOinactie says the so-called efficiency cut of 183 million euros needs to be canceled, and that the government should structurally invest in academic education. Bod talks of a minimum of 1.15 billion euros a year.

‘Should and cannot be cut back on’
If the demands are not met by Prinsjesdag – Tuesday, September 18, 2018 – nationwide actions by teachers and researchers will follow the week after, Bod warns. He’s supported by action group Rethink and unions FNV and VAWO, among others.

Bod: “Since 2000, the amount of money the government makes available per student has been lowered by a quarter to 15,000 euros, while the number of students has almost doubled. We shouldn’t, really cannot, cut back more in academic education. Academic employees with regular educational tasks already can’t find the time to perform their essential educational work.”

Support of students
Student organizations LSVb and ISO have also signed the letter. Several student organizations have also made themselves heard this week. Several action groups will kick off a Night of Protest in Amsterdam on Tuesday. In Nijmegen, members of the local student union will hold a discussion about the planned cutbacks during an ‘open meeting’, and students gave away stress balls to soften the stress caused by high workloads and cutbacks. A petition of Utrecht students against the cutbacks at the Faculty of Humanities has already been signed almost a thousand times.

Bod is happy with the students’ support. “Protests are taking place at five universities. That doesn’t seem like a lot, perhaps, but for the Netherlands, that’s quite a high achievement.” If the teachers’ week of protest in September takes place, all universities will join in, he hopes. The Ministry of Education wasn’t available for comment yet.

Translation: Indra Spronk

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