Work pressure at the University has increased dramatically in the past years. The members of our bureau take paperwork home because they don't have time to read it during working hours, a personnel consultant tells. We used to have an intensive table tennis competition during the lunch break, recalls a mathematician, But this has stopped because of lack of time. The Soil Tillage professor: There is little time left for social contact. We increasingly say no to foreign researchers who want to work here. There is no time left to host them and do the accompanying paperwork. Few scientists and lecturers work less than fifty hours a week and professors regularly work eighty hours a week. We are involved in an international rat race among scientists. The one that wins gets the credits.
The University Council was replaced by a Works Council and a Student Council at the beginning of this year. Most of our time so far has been spent on housekeeping, says a member of the Works Council. The Student Council was much quicker in organising its work and has criticised the bureaucratic performance of the Works Council. The councils haven't been able to advise on educational and scientific policy, says student Timmo Gaasbeek, who studied the introduction of the new representation in the Dutch universities. The government's aim of speeding up procedures at universities hasn't been reached yet
Two WAU soil scientists, Nico van Breemen and Toine Jongmans, published a new theory in Nature last year, suggesting that certain moulds extract minerals out of rocks and transfer them to the conifers with which they have a symbiotic relation. This mechanism would explain why pine woods in northern Europe still are in reasonably good shape, despite acid deposits. Their theory is questioned by other soil scientists and microbiologists, who haven't found these ectomycorrhiza moulds in Dutch soils and doubt whether they would survive in acid soils. Van Breemen and Jongmans will test their theory in the coming four years, together with three PhD students and one postdoctoral student. They plan to study the moulds more intensively and find out in what type of soils this mechanism may occur
The number of dyslexic students at the WAU is increasing; last year twenty-six of them started a programme at the university. Nienke van Berkum is a tough case, but she managed to graduate in eight years. She finds it difficult to recognise letters as sounds, and her focusing ability is not stable. The university gives an allowance to dyslexic students, which provides them with extra time for their exams and enlarged texts. But I nearly always had to arrange the enlarged texts at the exams myself; most of the time the invigilators didn't know what I was talking about when I explained them my handicap. She did her thesis at the department of Physical Planning and needed a computer with a big monitor and a static monitor. I was glad I got the equipment, but it took five months. The University has no facilities for dyslectic students. The Dean for students will introduce measures to improve the situation