The Dutch Minister of Agriculture Jozias van Aartsen wants a further liberalisation of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy. The production quota for dairy products, the subsidies for fallow land and the guaranteed purchase of agricultural products by the EC should be lifted, writes Van Aartsen in his priority paper which leaked out a few weeks ago. WAU's Professor of Production Ecology, Rudy Rabbinge, agrees with the proposals. One of the main advisers of Van Aartsen, Rabbinge thinks that the GATT-agreement, the current dumping of products on the world market and the expected extension of the EU to include several eastern European countries - They too should have access to the European market - are the main reasons for the liberalisation.
The Dutch schools for vocational training (hbo's) are increasingly providing MSc courses for their graduates. Most of the courses lead to a degree from the English Open University. The Larenstein agricultural school in Velp, near Arnhem, has just started an MSc course in Land and Water Management. The school wants to train graduates to be team leaders in development projects. Several consultancy companies pay part of the students tuition fees and offer them temporary work afterwards. Larenstein is willing to cooperate with Wageningen Agricultural University, but the university is being slow in developing joint programmes with the vocational schools.
One of the main victims of the Executive Board's Chair Plan is Professor Perdok from the Department of Soil Tillage. Perdok took up his chair just three years ago. He has used this time to develop new research items, seek cooperation with other WAU departments and was about to merge his department with Agricultural Engineering and Physics. However, the Board recently decided that he has to leave. The professor is stunned; he had already agreed to reduce his chair to thirty percent - twelve hours a week. I want to preserve the expertise of the department, which is not present anywhere else in Holland.
Both teachers and scientific assistants at WAU are also worried about whether their jobs will continue. At the Department of Soil Science and Geology, six workers have to leave, because the number of students has dropped in the past years. The reality is tough, very tough!, says analyst Abraham Kuyper. He can stay, but is nevertheless afraid about the future: the remaining department members have to earn more money from outside the university while the scientific workload has not been reduced. He is very emotional about the proposal that one of his professors, Salle Kroonenberg, has to leave too. A great man! He should be allowed to continue his work.
Coincidentally, an external consultant carried out a management review of WAU's policy concerning personnel affairs. Most of the two hundred respondents at WAU expressed dissatisfaction about the dilemma which exists between organisational interests and those relating to personnel. Also voiced was the following opinion about central management: contradictions between policy makers and management result in unclear decision making.