Forum leader Baudet: “We are being undermined by our universities”
Forum for Democracy (FvD) is the big winner in Wednesday’s provincial elections. Thierry Baudet’s right-wing populist party now holds 13 seats in the senate, one more than liberal party VVD. What are Forum’s plans for higher education?
“Our education is eroding,” Baudet said during his victory speech on Wednesday night. And: “We are being undermined by our universities.” Minister of education Ingrid van Engelshoven was quick to respond. She described Baudet’s words on twitter this morning as “very detrimental.” “We need to protect academic freedom, not discredit it,” the minister said.
Baudet’s words do not come as a surprise. Last summer, a poster of Forum’s youth wing led to controversy: it seemed to call on students to violently rebel against their ‘left-wing teachers.’
During a party meeting in Bergen op Zoom earlier this month, Baudet announced his plans to initiate an investigation into “the influence of left-wing ideas in educational. We are going to bring it out into the open.” An earlier research on this issue conducted by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences didn’t suffice, Baudet seems to think.
According to the report in newspaper NRC, Baudet believes that high school and university students are exposed to ‘extreme leftist’ professors, teachers and teaching materials. Forum supposedly strives for a cultural transformation. “Every cultural and social institution in the Netherlands is infiltrated by left-wing activists to a high degree,” NRC cites Baudet. “We have to, slowly, place our people behind all those desks.”
Baudet believes higher education faces other threats as well. He if horrified by the extensive spread of English at Dutch universities and voted in favor of a (rejected) motion from populist freedom party PVV to reintroduce Dutch as the language of instruction for Bachelor’s programs in humanities.
Basic grant and selection
Forum wants to reintroduce the basic grant and opposes the increase of rates on student debts. The party program also states that the funding system for higher education needs to be completely reformed. Institutes of higher education and universities should no longer be assessed based on the number of diplomas they give out, but on their student enrollment numbers.
Those numbers will possibly decrease because Forum favors a “strict selection at the gates.” Such a selection should be completely transparent, the party believes. A (rejected) motion by socialist party SP to do research on the effectiveness of different methods for selection was backed by Baudet and his fellow party member in parliament Theo Hiddema. They were also in favor of an (accepted) motion from liberal democratic party D66 that requires universities to scientifically substantiate the selection criteria for their Master’s programs.
Forum for Democracy seems to have little faith in universities of higher education. To maintain the level of quality, every student has to take a central and nationwide exam.