Science - November 25, 2004

Plant scientists optimistic

They aren’t quite shouting it from the rooftops, but the results from the internet publicity campaign are making Dr Arjen Schots, coordinator of education for the Plant Sciences group, ‘hopeful’.

In recent years the number of student enrolments for Plant Sciences have gone down and down. The all-time-low was reached this year when only four new students started in the BSc programme, reason to start an advertising campaign. The aim of the campaign, which shows six keywords describing the Plant Sciences degree course printed on plant labels, is to make it clear that plant sciences are not a deformed version of biology but a subject in their own right. ‘High-school students seem to think that we are a biology degree that focuses on plants, but that’s not the case. What we are strong in is applying knowledge, and that is mega-important for the Dutch economy. We had our point proved recently when the Dutch parliament’s innovation platform chose Food and Flowers as one of the most important sectors in the Dutch economy. We want our campaign to make it clearer to Dutch schoolchildren what we have to offer.’ It looks as though it’s working. The internet ad campaign on websites visited by school students attracted 24,000 visitors to www.plantenwetenschappen.nl. And the open day last weekend attracted more visitors than last year. ‘We aren’t there yet, but last year there were only five visitors and this year twenty.’ / KV

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