P-NUT against experiment assistants

| Maaike Platvoet

P-NUT, the UT's doctoral candidates network, supports the joint letter from university participation councils and doctoral candidate organizations in which they express their opposition to the experiment with PhD students. The UT does, however, want to take part in the experiment.

This letter was sent yesterday to governors of the Dutch universities. In the letter concern is expressed about the government's plans that will enable universities to experiment with doctoral degree programmes in which doctoral candidates receive a grant instead of a salary for a period of eight years from 2016. This form of doctoral education is customary abroad, but not yet in the Netherlands. Various trade unions and the national doctoral candidate organization PNN spoke out previously against the plans, and there is now also a letter of protest from members of the university participation councils and local doctoral candidate organizations.

Poorer working conditions

The signatories of the letter are very concerned about the proposal. They refer to previously failed attempts to appoint PhD students in the Netherlands and warn that the experiment will not only lead to poorer working conditions and financial uncertainty for doctoral candidates, but that it will also lead to a loss of talent and will harm the good reputation of research in the Netherlands. The letter calls on the universities not to participate in the experiment.

Unfairness

Sarah Janus, president of P-NUT, sincerely hopes that the UT will ultimately not do so. "The UT is the only of the three technical universities to indicate that it wants to participate, which is quite remarkable." Her greatest personal objection is particularly the "unfairness of the system". "A divide will consequently arise between researchers who do the same type of work. That cannot be reconciled", says Janus. The president first wants to await national developments before P-NUT will sit around the table with the UT in order to discuss the issue.