Student - 23 november 2011

Question for the prime minister

Six students met Mark Rutte in the Grand Café this morning. The prime minister was here on a working visit.

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Fifteen minutes were all the six students had to get to know the prime minister this morning, and to ask him all their questions. What do you talk about in a meeting like this?
Coen Teeuw of Ceres sort of plunged straight into the discussion. 'You say entrepreneurship is sexy. What will you do to stimulate entrepreneurship among students?' But that was just a lead-in to his real question, which was if the Halbe fine could be spread across the entire study period. Rutte's response: you should not be asking the government to pay more for you.
Score: Discussion and a business card from Mark
Satisfied? 'It would be utopia to think that you can change anything about that fine. But I have his card and so we can continue to discuss this later on.'
Sanne Mirck of VeSte took a much more friendly approach. She complimented Rutte for investing money in education. She remarked that the Master's in Wageningen lasts two years, for which a student has to borrow twice as much. As such, the threshold is somewhat higher, she reasoned. Rutte replied that students ought to invest in themselves anyway.
Score: Friendly smile and a listening ear from Mark.
Satisfied? 'We are still lobbying with various organizations to get a study grant for one of the two Master's years. I have now brought this to his attention again.'
Stefan Petrutiu (PSF), Sanne Boeken (VHL), Jirka van de Pas and Roy Weizhi He (VeSte) were more reserved. Roy revealed that he has come to the Netherlands because he has been a fan of Ajax since the age of five. 'Van Gaal or Cruijff?' asked the prime minister. 'Van Gaal, because Cruijff is too old and too bossy.'
Score: A hearty laugh from everyone.
Satisfied? Roy, who is from China, did not prepare any questions: 'The prime minister is here to work on his public relations; the real deals are made behind closed doors. This is a performance, a show, and therefore, I didn't raise any real issues. The prime minister is very friendly, open and very well-trained in communicating. This experience has shown me how to stand firm behind your policies and still be friendly.'
Prime minister Mark Rutte visited the Wageningen campus this morning between 8.30 am and 10.30 am. On the white seats in the Grand Café in the Forum, executive board chairman Aalt Dijkhuizen talked about how Wageningen UR contributes to the growth of the Food Valley. After the discussion with the students, the prime minister was informed about geo-information research at Alterra and the increase of milk production by Russian farmers. Afterwards, he moved on to Unifarm to listen to talks about potato diseases and using algae as a raw material for food and fuel. Rutte's working visit formed part of a two-day visit to the knowledge institutes and companies along the A12. GvC

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