Nieuws - 18 januari 2012

Cap on recruitment for 'useless' degree programmes

The Dutch government should discourage young people from choosing ‘useless’ higher education courses, say the chairs of the new ‘top teams’ involving companies, universities and governments. Technical programmes should be prioritized, say the team chairs.

This view is expressed in a letter to minister of Innovation, Maxime Verhagen. The letter states that education and science must start meeting the needs of industry more than they currently do. Universities should focus on programmes that serve the interests of 'Dutch society and economic development.'

'We cannot afford to assume in education that all programmes contribute equally to the labour market and prosperity', write the team chairs. Measures they have in mind go beyond selecting students for courses and differentiation in tuition fees: they also suggest a recruitment embargo for 'programmes leading to limited employment prospects'. They do not name examples, but in earlier discussions degree subjects such as philosophy, cultural anthropology and leisure studies have been mentioned.

In his response, minister Verhagen keeps his cards close to his chest, but he does write that more young people need to be encouraged to pursue technical education, 'for example by offering job guarantees to young people who commit themselves to these sectors.'