UT ‘deeply concerned’ after debate on internationalisation

| Stan Waning

The UT is deeply concerned regarding the outcome of last week's debate on internationalisation. UT president Vinod Subramaniam called on students to speak out. Rector Tom Veldkamp takes inventory of programmes ahead of the law proposal.

‘If I have to use a single one word to sum up the aftertaste of the debate, it is concern. Deeply concern, even,’ Subramaniam began his monologue. ‘As the Executive Board, we put an immense value on internationalisation. Without the contributions of international students and colleagues, we would not be the university that we are today.’

After Thursday's debate, Subramaniam no longer doubts that Minister Dijkgraaf will intervene, even if the details are still unknown. ‘There will be laws and we will try to influence them. The question is how we are going to do that without abandoning our vision and values.’ Veldkamp complemented him: ‘Our vision and values remain leading. We will remain the most welcoming university, also for international students and staff.’

Existential importance

Despite that noble aspiration, the Executive Board fears that many changes will occur for the UT. Veldkamp is therefore already taking precautions for the bill. Together with programmes and faculties, he is looking ahead and taking stock, especially within bachelor programmes. After all, that seems to be the focus of the political discussion. How do programme objectives fit into the current debate and what is the stance of programmes on their language policies? Subramaniam calls on students to speak out towards the political centre in The Hague. ‘This is of existential importance for us. I can start stampeding, but your noise makes more of an impression.’

Sylvia Butzke, chair of the Supervisory Board, joined for the occasion and also spoke out firmly. ‘I can only encourage the sentiments I have heard here and I am glad we are on the same wavelength. Instead of the Netherlands taking steps forward in education, this discussion is actually taking us a step back. Let's to stay true to our values.’ Subramaniam: ‘What worries me most is that in five years' time we will be told: we don't have insufficient talent. Tearing a system down takes a single year, while rebuilding it takes twenty.’


The chair of the Executive Board was not only outspoken about politics, but also looked critically at the UT's actions. ‘Apparently we have failed to show society what we stand for. Collective responsibility needs to be taken for this. We are balancing on a thin tightrope, but I believe we are doing well so far and have confidence in the resilience of our university.’

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