News - April 13, 2016

Half of all scientists have too little time

Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

Half of all scientists have too little time to practice their profession. The workload is too high, they say in a survey of the Socialist Party (SP).

Image: Henk van Ruitenbeek

Almost eight hundred scientists of universities have now filled in the survey which the SP distributed and which will still run several weeks. The questions are on a variety of issues which play at universities, from flex contracts to workload to financing scientific research.

One of the positions read: ‘I have sufficient time and opportunities to practice my profession according to professional standards.’ It was found that 35 percent agrees, while 48 percent disagrees. The rest is neutral. An alarming result, MP Jasper van Dijk thinks.

Why do you think this is?

‘This is ultimately because of the political policies of the past decades. On the one hand there is a lot of influx of students and on the other hand the funding is lagging behind.’

Or do researchers maybe always think that things can be improved, like top athletes?

‘Nothing human is alien to us, also not science. But I do think it is a lot if almost half says: I cannot practice my profession according to professional standards. The reasons they mention are high workload, bureaucracy, too little support and inadequate management. They do not mention: this is because I am too ambitious.’

What needs to be changed?

‘In any case money is needed for higher education.’

Will more money be available as a result of the abolishment of the basic grant?

‘That remains to be seen. Will that money go to the right place? Teachers are sceptical, we revealed earlier. And now higher education first needs to advance two hundred million euro per year. 

In any case money is needed for higher education.
Jasper van Dijk, MP SP

In the last election programme the SP wanted to cut expenditures of education?

‘Last time we did not want to cut on education, but on the bureaucracy. And with that we do not mean on secretariats, because teachers are already complaining about too little support. We were talking about managers with their spreadsheets and powerpoints. Besides, we are currently writing a new election programme in which we provide extra money for education.’

Is it all about money?

‘No you also have to give teachers at universities more space to do their own work well. Do not agree to performance targets and do not give meddlesome management too much room.’