News - February 29, 2012

'Be more ambitious'

Emotions ran high yesterday during the parliamentary debate on success in studying organized by the VeSte student council. A heavy delegation from the Dutch Second Chamber debated among its own members and with the students present.

Boris van der Ham (centre) was declared the winner of the debate by Martin Kropf.
In the style of the British House of Commons, students carried out a debate with Dutch members of parliament Boris van der Ham (D66 party), Jasper van Dijk (SP), Anne-Wil Lucas (VVD) and Tanja Jadnananansing (PvdA). The topics unleashed strong emotions from the packed hall, making it difficult for the MP's to make themselves heard.
Is Wageningen the best university in the Netherlands? This first motion, submitted by rector Martin Kropf, sparked off a lively discussion right from the start. Although Wageningen University has always had good scores in the Dutch study guide, it is 'not broad enough to serve the country,' commented someone from the opposition. An aerospace engineering student from Delft added that Wageningen lies too way out: 'You can reach outer space faster than get to Wageningen.'
40 hours of studying
The motion that students have to study at least 40 hours weekly was met with more unanimity. The proposition's podium was almost empty.  It's not the hours that count but the results, so went the argument. But Jasper van Dijk of the Socialist Party did not agree to this view; he feels that ambitions should be higher: 'Students should themselves aspire to study 40 hours a week.'
The motion 'The need for internships is exaggerated' also drew hardly any supporters. Boris van der Ham (Democrats 66) persisted in his opinion and represented this small group: 'Internships cost expensive and valuable lesson time.' A loud British-sounding boo arose from the opposition: 'Don't tell us you don't learn anything at all during an internship!'
Loan system
The climax of the evening was the moment when Tanja Jadnananansing (Labour Party) and Boris van der Ham walked up to the podium opposing the loan system. During the last elections, both were still visibly supportive of this regulation. Both managed to worm themselves out of that situation. 'I oppose this because this cabinet does not channel the money acquired through the current measures directly back into higher education,' says Van der Ham. Needless to say, Anne-Wil Lucas (VVD) was the only representative from the ruling party who was also against it.
Irrevocable study recommendation
Also of a fiery nature was the debate on the irrevocable study recommendation (bindend studieadvies). It is remarkable that a majority of the students was for the recommendation, while Anne-Wil Lucas of the VVD ruling party was against it. 'Don't do it if you don't need it,' was her advice to Wageningers. 'You have the highest returns in the Netherlands here.'