In full swing

Singapore is the place to be for researchers from around the world, NRC Handelsblad reports.
While universities in many countries in Europe face cutbacks as a result of the economic crisis, according to NRC Handelsblad, Singapore is investing massively in science and technology.

The tiny country is regarded by many as a gateway to Asia and is functioning like a magnet for scientists from around the world.

TU Delft is also active in Singapore, participating in the Singapore Delft Water Alliance programme, together with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and water research institute Deltares.

Involved with this collaboration is hydraulic engineer Professor Guus Stelling, of the faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. He actually has a position as professor at NUS, and is there as we speak. “One of the reasons I’m here is because of the universities double Master’s degree programmes in hydraulic engineering and water management,” says Prof. Stelling. Since 2009 students from both universities can follow these Master’s for which they spend two semesters in Singapore and two semesters in Delft.

“Singapore seeks strong partners from all around the world,” Prof. Stelling continues. “We in Delft are renowned for our work within the field of civil engineering. And so, you can sort of say that they choose us to collaborate with within this field.”

The hydraulic engineer, who will retire from TU Delft next year, says he is surrounded by part-time professors from institutes like Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, ETH and MIT, who are also nearing the end of their careers, or rather the end of their careers in their home countries. Singapore offers them the opportunity to continue their vocation.

“The money isn’t bad,” says Prof. Stelling. “But it’s more than that. It’s very interesting to be in this booming place. And Singapore has a different attitude towards the elderly than we have. Old people are treated with much more respect. I see many professors in their seventies here who are still in full swing.”

Prof. Theo Toonen, dean of the faculty Technology, Policy and Management, also collaborates with NUS, or more specifically with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, which is part of NUS. For one, he supervises the work of one of its PhD students. He’s especially interested in water policy and metropolitan governance and would like to increase collaboration in these fields. But to keep pace with the researchers from Singapore, you need money. “They have so much money,” Prof. Toonen sighs. “So much more than we have.”

He would also like to add some courses in water governance to the curricula of the dual Master’s programme and is having discussions about this option at the moment.

The students from the dual Master’s programme are in Delft this semester. One of them is Phi Bang Do (23). He has a different view of things. “Everybody gets bored very quickly in Singapore,” he says, when asked why he choose to temporarily leave Singapore and come to Delft. “Most students signed a contract obliging them to work for three year in Singapore after graduating, in exchange for which they pay less tuition fee. So we can’t run away. While participating in the dual Master’s however, we do get the opportunity to leave the country for a while.”

 De Tweede Kamer debatteert half april voor de laatste keer over de langstudeerwet van staatssecretaris Zijlstra. Wie meer dan een jaar studievertraging oploopt gaat – als het kabinet zijn zin krijgt – bijna vijfduizend euro collegegeld betalen. Die maatregel moet per 1 september ingaan en geldt ook voor de huidige studenten die al studievertraging hebben opgelopen.

“Hoe meer studenten komen protesteren, hoe groter de kans dat de regering het plan moet intrekken”, zegt SP-kamerlid Jasper van Dijk in het filmpje. Volgens de oppositie worden vooral ambitieuze studenten door de maatregelen getroffen.

De demonstratie op het Plein in Den Haag wordt georganiseerd door Studenten in actie. Op Facebook-pagina geven bijna driehonderd studenten aan dat zij zullen komen demonsteren. Maar er zijn er ook tientallen die laten weten dat ze niet kunnen komen vanwege tentamens of stage.

In januari stonden twintigduizend studenten op het Haagse Malieveld om de staatssecretaris ervan te overtuigen zijn plannen van tafel te halen. Ook hoogleraren protesteerden, maar het leverde vooralsnog niets op.

Editor Redactie

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