News - May 21, 2010

Dijkhuizen threatens to expel Van Hall and Larenstein

The Executive Board will not tolerate any refusals concerning the merger of Larenstein in Velp and the Van Hall Institute in Leeuwarden. Board chairman Aalt Dijkhuizen made this clear to about sixty employees of Larenstein on Thursday during the board's strategy tour. 'We won't carry on with a divided organization; if you don't want to merge, then we have had it up to here.'

The two institutes - despite having the common name VHL - have resisted for several years to become one entity. One of the bottlenecks is that a number of programmes are duplicated. Although VHL top woman Ellen Marks declared during the meeting that the programme directors of both institutes have reached an accord on this matter, she failed to dispel scepticisms.

Long time employee Johan Meurs, who is originally from Boskoop and has been involved in mergers since the mid-eighties, remarked: 'We still see directors going to Zwolle for meetings. They lay down embankments where no roads would ever be built. There aren't any decisions to be made. We can't even agree on a date for an employees' day. Everyone is frustrated; we have no mutual interests. We aren't even apples and pears, but more like plums and bananas.'

In a long monologue, Dijkhuizen pointed out the necessity for a merger. From 1 September, an executive board is allowed to manage only one university of applied sciences officially. A management merger is therefore an absolute necessity. 'Splitting up is not possible. To continue as two small separate institutions is to go against the spirit of the age, which calls for cooperation and consolidation. It could even endanger their very existence.'
Dijkhuizen also made it clear that a lot of money would be involved. Fifteen more employees will be needed to run both the institutes separately, he said.  A merger will instead enable a reduction of 20 persons within the next two years. 'That will save two and a half million Euros a year, money which can be spent on education. Even if those who refuse to merge do not bat an eyelid about this matter, they will still have to do a lot of explaining to the students and their parents, and to the world outside.'

Participational council chairman Dennis de Jager pleaded for another model: two independent applied sciences universities working closely with the university. Dijkhuizen brushed this off. 'The VHL management and the executive board will go all out to achieve a merger. We are pulling out all the stops. If this can't go ahead because the participational council says 'no', we will look for other partners. In Dronten, they will be ready in less than no time to invest in the Dairy Campus with us.'