Science - March 3, 2005

'Wageningen has few international employees'

A study commissioned by Nuffic indicates that only sixteen percent of the scientific employees at Wageningen University come from abroad. That would make Wageningen the least international university in the Netherlands except for Groningen. ‘Outside research bureaus often say stupid things,’ was Professor Rudy Rabbinge’s reaction.

The Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic) asked an external research bureau to work out how many scientific workers in the Netherlands come from abroad. Policy research office Research voor Beleid gathered data from various sources including information provided by the institutions themselves, internet searches and a questionnaire. An average of twenty percent of scientific personnel at Dutch universities comes from abroad: at the technical universities the figure is higher, 25 percent. With 16 percent of its scientific personnel coming from outside the Netherlands, Wageningen is less international than was thought.

‘Sixteen percent can’t be correct,’ was the reaction of executive board spokesman Simon Vink, who estimates that about half of the researchers at Wageningen University come from abroad. Professor Rudy Rabbinge, who is head of the Wageningen Graduate Schools, also believes that the true figure is higher. According to Rabbinge the difference can be attributed to the large number of foreign sandwich-PhD students here who have a grant from outside the university. They do research in Wageningen, but are not on the payroll and do not count as employees of the university. Rabbinge also had another explanation: ‘External market research bureaus often do not understand the specific situation and then end up saying stupid things.’ / JT

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