Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker strongly feels that “we need a lot more lecturers” in higher education. During an interview on the TV programme Buitenhof, Ms Bussemaker said that these lecturers would be paid with the savings made from introducing the new student loan system.
‘And I’m not talking about tens or hundreds, I’m talking about basic numbers,’ she added. ‘This would mean that we could organise education on a smaller scale, students and lecturers would have much more contact again, and most importantly, connections with the outside world could be given more shape. We need a little more idealism in education.’
Ms Bussemaker did not say exactly how many more lecturers are needed. She will be elaborating on her plans in her strategic agenda and will send this agenda to the House of Representatives before the summer recess.
She intends to pay these new lecturers out of savings gained from introducing the student loan system. Thanks to this system, she said, ‘we now have plenty of extra funds to invest in the quality of education. And this has become an urgent necessity due to the large number of students in higher education over the past decades.’
However, savings generated by the student loan system will not materialise for a few years yet. Ms Bussemaker has agreed with universities and universities of applied sciences that they will have to advance 200 million Euros a year.
The initial response from universities and universities of applied sciences has been sceptical. Ad de Graaf, director of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, posed the question on Twitter as to whether Ms Bussemaker has forgotten about the ‘concrete figures’, since part of the surplus funds generated by introducing the student loan system will be cancelled due to cutbacks in education.
Sibrand Poppema, chairman of the board at the University of Groningen, also responded in an interview on Radio 1. Although he agrees with the Minister that the proceeds from the student loan system should be spent on recruiting more lecturers, he added that this money will not be available until 2018: ‘But if Ms Bussemaker happens to have the funds right now, I’d be delighted to hear it,’ he said. However, he does not believe that this is actually the case. HOP