Nieuws - 24 februari 2011

PhD students in Wageningen will remain members of staff

Wageningen does not want to put its PhD students on a grant. 'Doing a PhD must remain an attractive option.'

'PhD students are an integral part of the academic staff. They are beginning researchers, not students.' That is what Johan van Arendonk, Dean of the Wageningen Graduate Schools, says in reaction to the Cabinet's proposal to give universities the option from now on of putting PhD students on a grant rather than paying them a salary. If it is up to Van Arendonk, that will not happen in Wageningen.
'We should give PhD students a proper job if we want to keep the PhD an attractive option for high-quality students', says Van Arendonk. 'I would think it a pity if we were to introduce a PhD grant or a cut in salaries.' Will he be giving this advice to the Executive Board? 'I have not seen any sign that the Executive Board is taking a serious look at this Cabinet proposal. I see it as the Cabinet putting out feelers.' At present, all Dutch PhD students in Wageningen have an employment contract. On the other hand, nearly all foreign PhD students in Wageningen are on a grant, which may or may not supplement income they receive from their own country.
The PhD candidates Network of the Netherlands has already rejected the Cabinet's plan. The Network says PhD students carry out similar work to university lecturers, i.e. research and teaching.