28 November 2018

WOinActie calls on students and staff to protest in The Hague on 14 December

The Utrecht branch of WOinActie is calling on all students and staff of Utrecht University to protest the underfunding of Dutch higher education in The Hague on 14 December. The Executive Board has informed WOinActie of its support for the demonstration. On 14 December, students and staff who wish to participate in the protest will be excused from attendance. If you wish to attend the protest, however, please take a moment to inform your colleagues/students that you will be out of the office or will not be attending classes on 14 December. 

Place and time

The demonstration will begin at 13:00 on Friday, 14 December, at the Koekamp in The Hague. Register for free transportation from Utrecht to The Hague.

WOinActie call to action

Since 2000, the number of students enrolled at Dutch universities has risen by 68%, but government funding per student has decreased by 25%. WOinActie, the platform of researchers and students that aims to reverse the underfunding of Dutch universities, demands that the government invest 1.15 billion euros in higher education, and that it rescinds the two recently announced budget cuts (the so-called ‘doelmatigheidskorting’ of 183 million and the lump-sum cut of 19 million announced on Budget Day 2018).

After years of underfunding, the work load in the higher education sector has become unacceptable in many areas, and the quality of education is under threat. At Utrecht University, more than 70% of the professors and teaching staff say that their work load is too heavy or excessive. As a result, many departments are understaffed due to overworked colleagues on sick leave, requiring the remaining staff to take over their work. This situation has become untenable. Although it is clear that a combination of measures is needed to correct the situation, one necessary element of the solution is that the government must adjust university funding to reflect society’s expectations of what universities are to accomplish.

In order to raise awareness of this issue, WOinActie organised debates and held outdoor lectures in September, and the platform has met with the Ministry of Education to discuss the problem. Unfortunately, the current Cabinet has displayed absolutely no willingness to rescind the budget cuts. The national committees of WOinActie have therefore decided to organise a protest in The Hague on Friday, 14 December. We therefore call on every student and university employee to join the demonstration and let your voices be heard in favour of adequately funded universities.

The Executive Board of Utrecht University has informed WOinActie of its support for the demonstration.

UU supports national demonstration by WOinActie

On Friday, 14 December, WOinActie will hold a national protest in The Hague to draw attention to the excessive work load of university personnel. Utrecht University supports the ideas of WOinActie. As we said during the Opening of the Academic Year. the so-called ‘doelmatigheidskorting’ (‘efficiency cuts’) and the lump-sum budget cut must be repealed immediately. But more importantly, over the long term government funding for higher education should cover the costs of the university’s tasks and the number of students we educate. Funding should also ensure the link between teaching and research, which is the foundation of a university education. The Executive Board has met with the Minister to advocate for these measures, based on our bottleneck analysis. We are also examining what we as a university can do to address our employees’ excessive work load. But we understand and appreciate the motivation of the Utrecht chapter of WOinActie, and we fully support the initiatives. Any staff and students who wish to participate on 14 December will therefore have an opportunity to do so: they will not have to claim leave hours, and will be excused from lectures. We ask that any students or staff who wish to demonstrate will inform the university in a timely manner.

Anton Pijpers
President of the Executive Board