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Leiden ‘host’ lashes out at minister

THE NETHERLANDS. Carel Stolker, rector magnificus of Leiden University, believes the relationship between our politicians and our universities is at a low point. He has directed some harsh words towards Minister of Education Van Engelshoven, who he will be receiving as a guest at the university later today.

The minister will be at Leiden University this afternoon to give a speech marking the opening of the new academic year, but this did not prevent Mr Stolker from expressing fierce criticism of government policy.

‘We have invited the minister to be here, and naturally she must be accorded the respect that her position dictates,’ said Stolker in the Financieele Dagblad. ‘But equally, we are not going to hide our view that her policy is simply disastrous.’

‘I feel that politics and higher education have become estranged from each other,’ he added. ‘I’ve never known a time when relations were this bad – particularly given the favourable economic situation.’ Mr Stolker made broadly similar comments in NRC Handelsblad.

ns that he is supportive of the WOinActie protest going on a stone's throw away from the official opening. The campaign group wants universities to be given an additional 1.15 billion euro to reduce the workload and maintain the quality of education and research. They also want previously proposed spending cuts to be taken off the table.

The opening of the academic year has traditionally been an occasion when university managers and activists express their thoughts to politicians.

HOP, Bas Belleman

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