Impact of Inspectorate’s report

Representation bodies also heavily criticise the Executive Board

The central and local representation councils at TU Delft are not in agreement with the ‘highly unempathetic’ way in which the Executive Board responded to the Inspectorate’s report. ‘We expected more self-reflection’, writes the Works Council.

A meeting of the Works Council and the Student Council with the Executive Board in October 2023. Present on behalf of the Executive Board are secretary André Groenhof, vice-rector Rob Mudde and Executive Board member Marien van der Meer (from left to right). (Photo: Thijs van Reeuwijk)

By Saskia Bonger, Annebelle de Bruijn and Marjolein van der Veldt

The Works Council (OR), the three Student Council parties, and the internal Works Council at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering (ODC AE) reject the Executive Board’s plans to bring the Inspectorate of Education to court. They criticise the events of the last few days in letters, emails and online statements.

The OR and the ODC AE write that after the Inspectorate’s report was published, they received many reactions from concerned TU Delft employees who are not in agreement with the actions of the Executive Board. A large proportion of AE employees view the university administration’s plan to go to court as ‘overdefensive, and even vengeful’. This is stated in a letter that the ODC AE sent to the OR. The internal representative body also shared the letter with Delta.

  • Delta is looking for current and former TU Delft staff members who are willing to share their experiences. This can be done anonymously if preferred. Email

The ODC AE believes that a court case would give out a ‘signal’ that ‘any criticism could be met with dismissal and punishment’. This is not befitting of TU Delft where all staff members should feel free to voice criticism without ‘fear of repercussions’.

Not surprising

On Friday 1 March, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board made it known that the Inspectorate accuses it of mismanagement on the grounds that it did not sufficiently safeguard the care of staff. Before the staff could read the report, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board made it clear that they reject the investigation methods and the conclusions of the Inspectorate, and that they are ‘intending’ to file a civil lawsuit.

The ODC AE says that the findings of the Inspectorate of Education ‘cannot be considered surprising or inaccurate’. The internal representative body says that over the years it has repeatedly alerted the Faculty management on socially unsafe behaviour at the Faculty.

Hundreds of signatures

Even before that, over the last few years, the four trade unions at TU Delft had also alerted the Executive Board to socially unsafe behaviour. The trade unions too are not in favour of a court case, just as the more than 970 employees who signed a petition to this effect.

In an email to TU Delft employees, the OR wrote that social safety at TU Delft is ‘not as it should be’. The representation council also thinks that the Executive Board’s reaction shows ‘too little recognition and empathy’.

‘Supposedly taking these reporters ‘seriously’, yet having the nerve to torch the harsh conclusions in the report’

Last week, among the Inspectorate’s issues that TU Delft disputed at length, were the findings that ‘mechanisms to ensure a socially safe environment’ for employees are ‘hard to find and not effective enough’. The OR is in agreement with the Inspectorate. ‘The effectiveness of the current systems appears to be inadequate and that does not create a safe enough environment for people to report incidents.’ It goes on to say that this is why more measures need to be taken.

Impact on students

The three central Student Council parties also ask for more measures to be taken. In an online statement, Lijst Bèta refers to the outcomes of the report as ‘troubling’ for the student community. ‘The workplace culture and attitudes among professors and staff directly influence and mirror the experiences of the present generation of students.’ The party calls on the Executive Board to pay more attention to the gravity and urgency of the situation instead of to its own reputation.

Dé Partij says that the reaction of the Executive Board shows that it ‘does not care’ (in Dutch) about the 148 victims in the Inspectorate’s report. ‘Supposedly taking these reporters ‘seriously’, yet having the nerve to torch the harsh conclusions in the report and take legal action.’

Oras says it is disappointed that students had to learn the contents of the report from the media. “Transparent communication towards students (and staff) about this report and its consequences should be a high priority for the Executive Board.” The faction calls for taking learning from what Delft students (organisations) are already doing to improve social safety, such as the Trek wel aan de bel campaign.

Action plan

On Friday 1 March, Delta requested to interview the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board. It has as yet not received a response. On Thursday 7 March, the Executive Board issued a brief statement on the intranet. In the statement it wrote that ‘everyone deserves a good working environment’, and that it has heard ‘a lot of suggestions for action and improvement’ during various drop-in sessions with management and at faculties.

One day later, on Friday 8 March, Executive Board member Marien van der Meer said at an event commemorating International Women’s Day that she understands “the emotions about what is happening” and feels the responsibility to “do the right thing”.

In the next few months, the Executive Board – as required by the Inspectorate of Education – will work on ‘a strong action plan’ to improve social safety at TU Delft. In its intranet message, the Executive Board calls on all staff members to share their ideas. Inquiries show that someone has been appointed to lead the drafting of an action plan. However, the TU Delft spokesperson says he has no permission to share who that is.

In its intranet message, the Executive Board emphasises that ‘the working environment also has to be safe for HR staff members and supervisors’. The consideration of going to court should be seen in this context. ‘But this was not and is not our main message, which seems to have been overshadowed by it. Our employees are our capital and are highly appreciated.’


The Inspectorate of Education investigated transgressive behaviour at TU Delft from December 2022 to November 2023. In the resulting report, the investigators speak of intimidation, racism, sexism, bullying, exclusion, gossiping, social insecurity due to lack of leadership and a culture of fear, among other things. For instance, employees are said to be afraid to voice their opinions and hold each other accountable for behaviour.

The effects among TU Delft employees who have reported to the inspection are often long-lasting and hampering. The inspectorate speaks of psychological and physical health complaints, absence from work and a general feeling of insecurity. Stress, burnout, depression and PTSD, crying and tense home situations also occur, as do illness, vomiting at work, panic attacks and heart palpitations.

The inspectorate reports that TU Delft’s university administration has a lot of information regarding what is happening in terms of social safety, but that they ‘omit to add everything up so as to create a complete picture’. ‘The management’ also ‘does not adequately manage in terms of appropriate measures’. The Inspectorate believes that this is mismanagement.

Read the news and background articles on the Inspectorate’s report in our dossier.

Editor Redactie

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