MAASTRICHT. For the first time in history, Monday 1 September will see an alternative opening of the academic year in Maastricht. While the official ceremony in the Theater aan het Vrijthof will address the topic of women in academia, the alternative opening that evening will focus on an entirely different subject. It will throw the spotlight on problems such as high workload, poor career prospects for young employees, quantitative output measurement and growing bureaucratisation at Dutch universities. “Discussion of a much needed fundamental change is missing”, according to the press release of the organising committee, the Platform for the Reform of Dutch Universities. Controversy arose last year over perverse research incentives, which can lead to a ‘publish or perish’ attitude and issues like plagiarism, and the decreasing quality of education. Critics, such as the Science in Transition (SiT) and Reform of Dutch Universities platforms, are addressing these issues in different ways.
The meeting starts at 19:00 hrs, rather than in the afternoon, in parallel with the official event. Would it not have been much more challenging to do so? “Organizationally impossible”, says René Gabriëls, lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and one of the organisers.
The speakers include Prof. Frank Huisman (universities of Maastricht and Utrecht, SiT), Dr René Gabriëls (UM, Reform of Dutch Universities), a representative of the Dutch National Students Association, and Becky Turner (chair of the student association Orakel).