MAASTRICHT. UM students have published an open letter in which they criticise the education at the School of Business and Economics (SBE), especially regarding some theories on banking. The letter went “viral” on Twitter and was supported by a few leading economists. The students hope that SBE will adjust the curriculum.
The students, who are part of the activist platform Pine UCM (pluralism in economics), sent an open letter to 61 SBE lecturers and the dean on 14 February. The letter stated that publication would follow five days later on the Pine website and on Facebook. “Not to put pressure on the economists,” says Maurice Höfgen, master’s student at SBE, “but to involve researchers and students from other institutes in the debate.”
The students claim that some of the theories that have a prominent place in their education programmes are not in keeping with reality. They are especially targeting the loanable funds approach, in which banks are to be seen as intermediaries that use savings to grant loans and by doing so don’t create money. That does not correspond with the evidence the students have gathered, such as quotes from the Deutsche Bundesbank and the Bank of England: “(…) banks do not simply act like intermediaries.” And: they do create money.
The letter ended up on Twitter and went “viral”, says Höfgen. “This was because some big names in economics supported our letter and forwarded it. One of them was Steve Keen (professor at Kingston University in London, ed.). By last Monday, the document on our website had been clicked 3,700 times.”
The flaws in the education programme are not typical of SBE, but of Economics faculties worldwide. Höfgen: “This has to do with the fact that the neoclassical theories are far too dominant in university education. The international platform Rethinking Economics concluded in 2016 that these theories determined at least 80 per cent of the content of Dutch economics curricula. At SBE, it turned out to be 95 per cent.”
Pine UCM already drew attention to this matter in 2014. The Maastricht department is part of the international PINE movement, which then consisted of 65 associations of Economics students from over 30 different countries. Their objective is: exposure to different perspectives, ideologies and ideas, such as post-Keynesian or ecological economics.
According to Pine, SBE will issue an official reaction to the letter at the end of this week.