The Dutch funding system for science works fine, concluded a working group of civil servants from several different ministries. But they think more could be achieved with the amount of money involved. For example, they think it is high time the PhD bonus was reconsidered.
Currently the universities get a fixed sum, about 9000 euros, per PhD graduate produced. With more and more people getting PhDs, the PhD bonus is costing more and putting the rest of the science budget under pressure. The working group therefore proposes a maximum amount to be distributed in the form of PhD bonuses.
Wageningen is in an unusual position in this regard, as the only university to get its funding from the ministry of Economic Affairs rather than the ministry of Education. So Wageningen’s increased PhD bonus does not deprive other universities of funding but comes out of the ministerial budget. If the PhD bonus is trimmed, Wageningen University can expect to be included, thinks Frank Bakema, director of Education, Research & Innovation. Independently of this issue, he wonders how long the ministry will go on funding the growing numbers of PhD and other students. ‘There must be a ceiling somewhere.’
The civil servants also see room for improvement in government funding of universities. This is still largely based on an institution’s historical status, and could be made smarter and more transparent.