Negative prices for urgent problems in universities
These are prices that you would rather not have on your shelf. An award for most disposable teachers. Or a prize for the biggest gender gap. With the negative rankings, the AOb, WoinActie, FNV, PNN, 0.7, LSVb and Casual Lead to a structural investment of 1,1 billion euros in university education during the opening of the academic year.
A bell jar with a shiny dime on a red velvet cushion. It is the award that several universities have received today. Not a prize to show pride, because these are the awards 'from the bottom'. If you win, you have nothing to celebrate.
"Tok-tok-tok." LSVb vice-chairman Joshua de Roos steps on stage in a chicken suit without feathers at the Pieterskerkhof in Utrecht. Two students hold a banner for him: 'You can't pluck from a bald chicken. Stop the loan system!' “I have been plucked, live small, have stress and I follow all the education I have with six hundred others,” says De Roos. “The lecture halls are getting bigger every year. We have not seen any of the quality improvements.”
The prize for most disposable teachers is for the Eindhoven University of Technology: 53 percent temporary contracts, with PhDs added 75 percent. Action group Casual Leiden presented the prize and mentioned in the speech the names of colleagues with whom they no longer work due to temporary contracts. “Miss you guys.”
In total, there were six categories with, in addition to the examples mentioned, also prizes for the institutions with the most scholarship PhDs, the least gender diversity, the most expensive executive board and an incentive prize for taking a stand together against the exploitation of young, temporary workers. Topics that universities deal with on a daily basis and that something must be done about according to the action groups.
'If you want to continue to perform, you have to invest'
A structural amount of 1,1 billion euros is needed. The opening of the academic year was the perfect moment to repeat that call. Since 2015, the AOb (formerly VAWO) an alternative, also known as 'true' opening of the academic year.
Professor of Korea Studies Remco Breuker of WOinActie, who presented the opening, underlined that the money being asked is compensation for work that is already being done. “OCW uses a funding system from 1984 to finance the universities. That was the time when Word Perfect was still a distant dream. If you want to continue to perform, you have to invest. There is now talk of structurally inadequate financing. Overtime has increased.” That's why the dime under the bell jar: wanting to sit on the front row for a dime, must be over.
AOb-chief director of scientific education and research and associate professor at Radboud University Marijtje Jongsma denounces the underfunding. “We have been saying for years that higher, but above all structural investments are needed,” she says. It must counteract the high work pressure, structural unpaid overtime, full lecture halls, temporary contracts and hyper-competition. “Structural financing is needed. Otherwise, the quality will drop or academic education will become less accessible. With a knowledge economy like ours, that doesn't seem like what we want. Our outgoing minister could have stood up better for our sector during her ministry.” Jongsma presented the award for least female-friendly university in the sun on the podium. That prize also went to Wageningen University.
The call for structural money does not only come from the action groups. The employers' organization VSNU also sees this. Recently, consultant PWC . published a report stating that funding is insufficient. The Court of Audit has also established.
We've been squeezed for years
The drum is beaten. Photographers whiz to the Pieterskerk, because that's where Van Engelshoven comes out after she has finished her speech she gave at the University of Humanistics. The minister briefly comes to the action stage in a procession of professors. All the action groups put their banners around her and the red suitcase with the alternative budget is ready.
“We have been squeezed for years,” says professor Rens Bod of WOinActie. “We cannot meet the target and want more permanent positions. We want money for the work we do.” Van Engelshoven agrees, but defers the question to the next cabinet. “A caretaker cabinet should not make such decisions. But a letter states that it 'must be generously financed'. If we shortchange researchers, we also shortchange the country. It's up to the next coalition." That could take a while or, as Professor Breuker said: “The formation takes longer than a peer review.”
Editor's Note: This post was edited on September 9. An earlier version stated that Wageningen University was awarded the LSVb prize for the 'most massive education' because they had a student/teacher ratio of 30. This is incorrect. Wageningen university
has a low student/teaching rate and should therefore not have been given this negative price.