Full of years


No dear reader, no worries, I don’t spend entire days drinking beer. The title of this column refers to patriarch Abraham who was ‘old and full of years.’ I’m starting to get pretty annoyed by that small red ball with its protruding tentacles, and those perpetual bugs in our HR system don’t exactly lift up my spirits either. Biblical plagues, that’s what they remind me of. And to make matters worse, the letter ‘d’ on my laptop got stuck. Bugger!

After working from home for almost a full year, most people have grown tired of the situation. And all those encouraging words from our managers and our Executive Board probably don’t have much effect anymore either. We’ve had it. Still, there was some uplifting news from The Hague this week: the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science announced a substantial relief package to support students and researchers. It's nice that the government doesn't just want to keep KLM up and running, but higher education as well.

A fifty percent reduction in tuition fees for the upcoming academic year. Money to extend contracts of junior researchers. Extra means to compensate universities for the strong rise in student numbers. Because even though students are likely to spend only a short period of time on the campus, this year’s enrollment numbers were higher than those of the previous year. Gap years were thrown overboard and inflow of international students increased. At our university as well.

But what we all really want is to cross the Dommel to meet each other again. The Dommel as our own Red Sea that leads to the promised land, the campus. Having lunch in the afternoon, talking about the progress you’ve made with your research or about a breakthrough with your student team, a small success achieved by your sports team, about what you plan to do during the weekend, or you express your astonishment at PSV’s decision to buy Timo Baumgartl for ten million euros.

I’ve found some consolation in last week’s carnival stories in my colleague Norbine Schalij’s longread. The cancellation of carnival was another plague that hit Brabant, but happily there were fond memories to share, and there’s hope for next year. That will be an explosion of festivities like never before.

I’m currently in the process of recruiting another new editor for the month of March. I had to do so earlier in January, and it was no easy task. At the start of this year, our Executive Board took a bold step and activated a new HR system, developed by software company AFAS from Leusden. Everything had been tested extensively, even though a few ‘hiccups’ were expected. That was almost two months ago now, and I’m still dealing with those hiccups in InSite. Or perhaps it’s the beer after all.

It turned out that the data I had entered last Wednesday wasn’t stored. Further inquiry taught me that a new bug was found – the Leusden variant, I presume – and that it had rendered all my work useless. My trusted HR employee, who does her utmost best, tells me that I’m not the only one. She will inform me when the AFAS brigade has crushed this bug with its hammer. I hope that this one will be more effective than prime minister Rutte’s infamous hammer. We’ll see.

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