Organisation - August 17, 2011

Van Rooijen is getting support from Arnold Heertje

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We need to stop this situation where managers lose sight of the importance of teaching and intimidate the rank and file', says Arnold Heertje. That is why the renowned economist has been looking into the dispute between the Executive Board and lecturers at Van Hall Larenstein.

VHL is a very typical example', says Heertje. 'The managers intimidate the rank and file, and Van Rooijen, who is highly esteemed, is bullied into leaving.' The economist, a member of the Recommendations Committee of the Beter Onderwijs Nederland (better education for the Netherlands) society, has seen this before at the Inholland and RijnIJssel universities of applied science. 'I also got involved there and their supervisory board members have now been dismissed. That's good, things are changing and State Secretary Zijlstra is taking a firm stance.'
Money and power
Heertje has been getting annoyed for years with managers in education who focus on mergers and new buildings, and no longer have any feeling with education and staff. 'Those managers are interested in money and power, not in students. I want to expose such behaviour to bring about improvements. Students and staff should go back to being priority number one in education.'

Heertje has phoned the suspended education programme director Hans van Rooijen. 'He's got my support.' The emeritus professor writes columns for RTL-Z, but does not yet know whether he will write about this issue.
Questions in Parliament
In the meanwhile, more outsiders have been meddling in the issue. Following an article in the Volkskrant newspaper, Labour Party member Tanja Jadnanansing put Parliamentary questions to the State Secretary for Education, Halbe Zijlstra. Jadnanansing wants to know what the State Secretary thinks of the situation at VHL, 'especially in view of the position of the teaching staff and the quality of teaching'. She wants to know whether the Ministry was involved in these plans and 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'.

VHL has been in ferment for some time now. Marks wants to transfer education programmes to larger 'schools', thus introducing a new layer of management. The Board also wants to broaden education programmes and centralize support services. Lecturers and students think this is not a good idea. They are worried that the new policy will have a negative impact on the quality of education. Programme director Van Rooijen expressed those worries and had to pack his bags.

The Employees' Council in Velp is expected to consider new protests after the summer holiday to try and keep Van Rooijen. The programme director himself is not making any comment on the advice of his lawyer. The Executive Board is also not prepared to discuss the issue.
Others, however, are discussing the malaise at VHL. For example, there has been a critical reaction to Jadnanansing's Parliamentary questions in a blog.

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