Studenten helpen DUO met voorlichten

De Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs DUO gaat student-redacteuren werven die de teksten op de website begrijpelijker moeten maken voor studenten.

The student protest last Friday in Den Haag unfolded like a well-rehearsed theatre play, with the first act opening in the morning when formerly robed university professors solemnly marched through the streets in opposition to government cuts in university funding, followed by the more emotionally-charged second act in afternoon, when tens of thousands of young Dutch students gathered much more loudly – aided by megaphones, microphones and signs.

Student protests, budget cuts, government moves to force Dutch students to graduate quicker or pay ‘fines’ for extra study years have all been extensively reported in this newspaper over the past weeks. But what remained less clear is why international students should care about any of this? 
In fact, one might even half-joking argue that forcing Dutch students to study harder is a good thing for international students: the libraries might become more crowded with Dutch, but the sports centres, pubs and clubs won’t be.
Kees Elsevier, a chemistry professor at the University of Amsterdam, says that while higher education budget cuts won’t directly impact the international students currently nearing the end of their studies, the cuts will impact those who’ve just started their degrees or plan to do so in future. 

“Budget cuts mean fewer professors, associate professors and teachers generally at Dutch universities. Consequently, teachers will have less time to devote to international students during their studies,” Professor Elsevier explains. “Cuts also mean less equipment. For international students, there will be less time available to use what equipment there is or simply no equipment at all.”

The question then is whether Dutch universities will still be able to offer fee-paying internationals sufficient value for money? If not, fewer international students will study here, Dutch universities will generate less revenue and the university system will come under greater financial pressure.
Many of the international students at last week’s protest said they had done so to show solidarity for Dutch students and express their support for a continuing global exchange of knowledge through well-funded universities. For international students Li Chi and Chang Way, both Taiwanese PhD students in political economy at Leiden University, attending the protest was also more broadly and globally political. Should education be publically funded by governments, as in the classic European social-welfare state model, or should education be privatised and open to market forces, like neo-liberals support? “We’re here to show our disagreement with neo-liberal politics in the world,” Chi said. “Europe is an important educational stronghold for the world, so it’s important for us to be here.”

Staatssecretaris Zijlstra maakte dit donderdagochtend bekend tijdens het overleg met de studentenorganisaties. Op de teksten die nu op de DUO-website staan is volgens de bewindsman weinig aan te merken. Maar als studenten er aan meewerken sluiten ze mogelijk beter aan bij hun belevingswereld


De studentenorganisaties mogen het plan verder uitwerken, met als uitgangspunt dat de studentredacteuren hooguit een jaar lang acht uur per week als uitzendkracht aan de slag kunnen. Het salaris is “marktconform”.

Redacteur Redactie

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