Wetenschap - 7 december 1995

English Summary

English Summary

  • World famous scientist Hans Lyklema, Professor of Physical and Colloid Chemistry, gave his farewell speech last week after thirty-three years at the WAU. Lyklema, who started his work with two employees and two graduates, has built up one of the best departments in the world in this field of science. In his farewell speech, he outlined the main physical axioms for examining sustainable development. Because all use of natural resources increases entropy (disorder), economic growth is bad for the environment, stated Lyklema.

  • WAU students receive more credit points during their studies than for the amount they actually study. This was the conclusion of the WUB debate between education policy maker Dr. L. Speelman, physiologist Dr. D. van der Heide, educationalist J.J. Steen, graduate N. de Roos and student P. van Boekel. The students earn on average twenty five credit points more than needed during their MSc study. The students are trying to improve their chances upon entry into the job market, but this extra curriculum costs the university too much, says the WAU Board. It wants to limit the number of free-choice courses, but Van der Heide favours a critical view of course quality rather than quantity. He believes students get part of their credit points for free, because content of several courses overlaps.

  • The Departments of Crop Science, Plant Protection and Botany at WAU had to cut 7.5 million guilders from their 31 million budget two years ago, because the number of students had dropped severely. The Board gave the departments a budget to finance redundancies, but two years later only 1.5 million has been saved by the departments. This paring down is taking more time than was estimated by the Board, says physiologist L.H.W. van der Plas, because priority plans and dismissals have to be assessed by several authorities.

  • The Global Coalition for Africa meeting in Maastricht last week was preceded by a congress in which the possibilities for universities to strengthen good governance in Africa were discussed. Most African universities are under control of their governments, African scientists explained, and most scientists try to survive by taking a second job or emigrate to western countries. Their influence on good governance is therefore nil. The Dutch organisation for international cooperation between universities, Nuffic, is now selecting African universities with a minimum of physical and managerial infrastructure for cooperation. But the idea that cooperation between universities could improve good governance is a fiction," says a programme director of Nuffic.

  • That the sex of fish can change is not new, but Wageningen researcher Dr. Hans Komen from the Department of Fish Culture and Fisheries has discovered the reason why genetically female wild carp at times grow into males. It appears that the amount of food available at the beginning of the life of a carp is a determining factor. A shortage of food results in the development of more males.

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