The Committee Van Rijn proposes to invest more money in technical science programs at universities. The four technical universities are the only institutions that benefit from this. All the other universities will lose funding. Scientists in technical domains welcome the proposed investments, but does this also hold true when the committee’s plans are at the expense of other fields of science?
Technical scientists of De Jonge Akademie (The Young Academy) started an online petition last week in which they argued in favor of a “more gradual growth” in education and research in their field. “We believe that it is harmful for Dutch science as a whole and for technical science in particular when scientific fields and scientists are played off against each other in this way,” they write.
Over one hundred and fifty technical scientists have signed the petition by now, most of them with their names. Among them scientists of three technical universities. One of the initiators of the petition, astronomer Frans Snik of Leiden University, believes that quality is more important than quantity. “It’s very significant, I believe, that several Spinoza Prize winners, such as Carlo Beenhakker, Heino Falcke and Mike Jetten, signed the petition.” He is also very pleased with the support from Vinod Subramaniam, rector magnificus of the VU Amsterdam.
Snik sees the petition as a declaration of solidarity. “Scientists need each other. The Committee Van Rijn’s advice is very destructive to the scientific community as a whole.” He finds the reallocation of the education budget “absurd” and hopes that minister Ingrid van Engelshoven comes to understand that it is necessary to spend more money on science.