News - September 10, 2015

Column: Premium sandals

There is fear of a rift. Staff of our DLO research institutes (Alterra, LEI etc.) still don’t have a new CAO, so DLO staff salaries are starting to lag behind those of university staff. Some are fearful of a split between firstclass (university) and second-class (DLO) staff. I don’t see the problem really.

Don’t assessments based on individual excellence, H indexes and tenure track amount to the same thing? By officially categorizing staff as firstand second-class, we can surely give that healthy competition an extra boost. So I’ve come up with an alternative strategic plan for Wageningen UR: the Wageningen dual ranking, with
Premium Research (university) and an Economy Line (DLO).

Premium researchers get to do whatever they like; that might be the best thing for fundamental research. Economy researchers, however, focus entirely on contract research. Of course it must be clear who belongs in the Premium line and who is an Economy researcher. So I would bring in compulsory uniforms: Economy staff wear suits (handy for getting contracts) while Premium staff can carry on turning up in walking boots or sandals.

Economy workers don’t need to do field work either, because all they need to do is acquisition and simple, cheap, computer simulations (again, good for profi t margins). Literature studies might be allowed, but only if the literature is fairly unambiguous. Perhaps we could even develop a special search engine for academic literature for them: an application that fi lters out all those vague research results.
This is what most clients want anyway: one clear result and no further ado. Anyone who insists on more complexity can always upgrade to a premium study.