Minister’s decision on PhD students raises eyebrows

Coalition parties VVD and CDA want to know why the minister decided to pull the plug on the experiment with PhD students before she had it evaluated.

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Last September, Minister of Education Ingrid van Engelshoven announced that universities can no longer apply for participation in the experiment. A total sum of two thousand positions were available for PhD students who do not receive a salary but a grant instead, which makes them non-employees. The experiment sparked little interest: only 865 positions were filled, most of them at the University of Groningen (RUG). The TU/e sees no merit in a system of scholarships for PhD students.

VVD and CDA want an explanation from the minister and ask her to reconsider her decision if an interim evaluation gives cause to do so. They point to the results of internal research conducted by the RUG that supposedly show that PhD students are satisfied with, among other things, their legal position and the supervision they receive.

The experiment with PhD students was controversial from the start. Critics believe that PhD students should have regular terms of employment.

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