It is incredibly hard to make a career in academia. First you must get your PhD, and then there are usually very few postdoc positions open to you.
If you have managed to find a series of postdoc places, and travelled around the world for a couple of 18-month contracts, now you’ll just have to hope a vacancy comes up somewhere for a permanent job in your field.
The vast majority of researchers drop out at some stage along the way, either through disillusionment or simply due to not finding a new job at the end of a contract. Actually there is only one thing that can save you in that situation: a personal grant. Then you can bring in your own research funding, which enables you to gain a foothold in academia.
The most sought-after personal grant available to young researchers is the NWO’s Veni grant of 250,000 euros. This is enough money to set up your own study. But this year, the NWO and the universities association VSNU changed the rules for Veni applications. Applicants must now guarantee that a university is willing to provide them with facilities for their research for three years. In practice, this means your university determines whether you can apply for a Veni, and if you get one, you can’t then shop around with your ‘own funding’.
In short, the new rules give the university more power and make the researcher more dependent. A bad development for the researcher and the research.
Guido Camps (34) is a vet and a postdoc at the Human Nutrition department. He enjoys baking, beekeeping and unusual animals.