The Dutch parliament is not enthusiastic about the Dutch minister of Education's plan to change the University Boards into advisory committees to the Executive Boards of the thirteen Dutch universities. The minister wants to strengthen the decision-making power of the policy makers at the universities, but some members of parliament think that the proposed law will adversely affect the influence professional scientists can exert on research and education policy. In the new law, the dean of studies will be fully responsible for the performance of the departments, instead of the head of department.
The Department of Irrigation & Soil & Water Conservation at WAU is undergoing a reorganisation in order to cut staffing levels by 25 percent. One of the measures involves the dismissal of the sociologists in the department who translate the wishes of farmers into irrigation schemes. Their work will be taken over by engineers in the department and other rural sociologists. Apart from that, the two chairs of the department, Linden Vincent and Leo Stroosnijder, will start a living apart together relationship: the irrigation specialist and conservationist from the department will no longer discuss in one assembly. We were oppressing each other," relates a member of staff.
Some developing countries want to stimulate the use of fertilizers and pesticides, to deal with the problem of soil exhaustion, while western countries are trying to decrease the overkill. Economists at the international Economics of Agro-Chemicals congress in Wageningen, in April, want to calculate the costs and benefits of the use of these chemicals. But it's hard to translate the ecological and toxicological consequences of agro-chemicals into money. It may be easier to inform farmers about farm practices which result in high yields with limited use of chemicals, says economist Zacchariasse. Awakening farmers may therefore be more fruitful than raising the price of the chemicals.
Have you ever found a job on the side which consisted of staying in luxurious hotels and eating exclusive dinners with professors? WAU student Edith Hubert did just that. She managed this through her appointment to the Dutch visiting committee whose task was to assess the environmental studies programme. At first Hubert was somewhat overawed by the other members, all grand old men. But it was very companionable (or gezellig, the Dutch word that defies translation)." The committee talked for a day and a half with members of every programme . The talks with the students in particular were very enlightening. They don't play political games," says Hubert.