Dutch students should have more choice when they enter university, according to the plan for higher education of Minister Jo Ritzen. Apart from the four-year Masters degree, universities should develop three-year BSc-courses, possibly followed by a selective two-year MSc. But the students must finish their programmes much more quickly than they do at present. Most of students take six years to finish a four-year course.
Surprise surprise! Wageningen is the most enjoyable city for Dutch students. A questionnaire among students in the twelve university towns reveals that the WAU students are most satisfied with their living conditions and the sport facilities. The questionnaire is part of the Higher Education Guide, which compares the quality of the different university courses. The guide doesnot indicate whether Wageningen has the best studies, because most of the WAU programmes were not included in the survey.
The Dutch manure surplus, caused by intensive pig farming, is a hot item between the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment in The Hague. Last Friday, Minister of Agriculture Van Aartsen was pressured by a demonstration of ten thousand farmers, who opposed the decreases in the amount of manure they are allowed to spread on their land. On the other hand, the Minister for the Environment De Boer is pressured to limit the manuring by farmers to such a degree that all the manure is used on the crops. The political compromise, which was presented last week, still gives farmers the opportunity to use more manure than is necessary for the growing conditions of the plants. Bureaucratic and legal problems stand in the way of implementing tough rules, the Minister of Environment says.
As we reported two weeks ago, the Dutch government wants to modernise the management of universities by abolishing the University and Faculty Councils. Professor Klaas Kerkstra, of the Department of Physical Planning, is in favour of the proposal. Twenty-five years ago, when I was a student in Wageningen and the councils were established, we asked for even more participation of staff and students. But it has become a piece of administrative machinery which generates no clear decisions. And the latter is what we need in times of redundancies."