Nieuws - 18 augustus 2011

Parliamentary questions about unrest at VHL

The Labour Party in the Dutch Parliament has asked the State Secretary to clarify matters. The VHL petition in support of Van Rooijen has not been honoured.

Hans van Rooijen
An article in the Volkskrant newspaper about the conflict at Van Hall Larenstein has led to parliamentary questions. In the article, the Velp Employees' Council secretary Peter Aerts talks about the dissatisfaction among staff and students with the University of Applied Science's director Ellen Marks and her performance. Labour Party member Tanja Jadnanansing now wants to know what State Secretary Zijlstra thinks of the situation at VHL. She also wants to know whether the State Secretary is prepared to evaluate the situation and the plans in due course, 'taking into account the opinions among teaching staff and students at the University's different locations as well'. The State Secretary is expected to answer the questions after the recess.
According to Aerts, a key point in the Employees' Council's criticism is Marks's wish to combine degree programmes in broader 'schools', thus creating a new management layer. Aerts: 'If they set up such schools, teaching staff will have less say in matters while managers will have more influence. We are afraid of the negative impact this could have on the quality of education.'
Education programme director Hans van Rooijen was suspended just before the summer holidays. He is critical of the plans and acted as a spokesperson for concerned teaching staff and students. They argue that Van Rooijen has established a successful Forestry and Nature Management programme. Around four hundred staff and students from both Velp and Leeuwarden signed a petition calling for the suspension of Van Rooijen to be reversed.
The end of the story
Chairman of the Wageningen UR Executive Board Aalt Dijkhuizen dismissed that plea. He said in a reaction: 'Once agreements have been made, they should be respected - by everyone who wants to stay at VHL, and especially by the managers. If someone knowingly and wilfully does not do this, that's the end of the story.' The Employees' Council is expected to consider new protests after the summer holiday in an effort to keep Van Rooijen on. The programme director himself is refraining from comment on the advice of his lawyer.