No money, no Swiss. A nice expression that translates into: without money, you can’t hire anyone to help you. It dates back to the time when the pope hired mercenaries for his protection. You can still see them at the Vatican, which means that pope Francis apparently still has the money to afford them. It was announced last Tuesday that the government decided to allocate extra means from the sector plans that will enable universities to recruit additional personnel. But will we manage to find those Swiss?
Hiring more personnel, both for the scientific and the support staff, is the most logical remedy against the ever-increasing work pressure at universities. TU/e also has its fair share of employee overload and high dropout rates at its services. Last Tuesday, it was announced that minister of education Dijkgraaf will allocate an annual sum of 200 million euros that needs to enable universities to ease the workload by, among other things, recruiting additional personnel.
The main question, however, is: where will we find those people? And on top of that, we mustn’t forget that TU/e isn’t the only institution with access to this additional funding. Delft, Enschede, Groningen, Amsterdam and all those other university towns will also send off their recruiters. And I won’t even mention that personnel devouring black hole known as ‘industry.’
That question will be all the more urgent when the current cabinet announces in its Spring Memorandum in early June that it agrees to financially support our upscaling ambitions. Six months ago, executive board president Robert-Jan Smits had the following to say about this matter, practically quoting the expression about the Swiss: “No money, no party.” But once Mark Rutte and his cohorts transfer the extra money for that party, we will need to invite quite a number of people to come and join the celebrations.
But then, it always starts with the money (doesn’t it always?). In the meantime, the university is exploring all kinds of paths towards initiatives that need to help reduce work pressure. Think of a big variety of internal programs, hybrid teachers, support staff members who assist during major projects so that researchers can focus mostly on matters of content, an even greater focus on recruitment activities and the appointment of additional recruiters, and initiatives such as the Irène Curie Fellowship program. It’s imperative that we come up with a mix of campaigns and initiatives, but all the same, everyone will still be fishing in the same pond.
Incidentally, people can now walk some actual paths on campus to seek some calmness and reflection with the WorkWalks. An ideal way to get employees to leave their office and keep physically active, according to ID doctoral candidate and initiator Ida Damen, who spoke to Cursor about her initiative back in 2019. But you should also think of it as a nice opportunity to leave things as they are and to relax for a while. And who knows what you might run into during one of your travels across campus. Perhaps a Swiss who is still looking for employment.