“In the ongoing tide of trade and political reforms, social collaboration between all kinds of institutions will also emerge, and this includes higher education. If you don’t want all that, you should vote ‘no’ in the referendum.”
Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker believes students could be pivotal in the referendum on the association treaty with Ukraine. The PvdA minister hopes they all cast their vote, and preferably in favour of the treaty.
“Democracy is a precious asset and in Ukraine they know all about its value”, says Bussemaker in an interview with the Higher Education Press Office. That’s why she wants all students to go to the ballot box on Wednesday.
Is the referendum important enough for students?
“There are six-hundred thousand students. I would say to them that together they can make the difference between yes and no. If you feel solidarity with students and people of your age in Ukraine, then it’s logical that you vote for the treaty.”
Do we know enough to make an informed choice when voting on such a complicated treaty?
“There are voting aids such as vote match, extensive write-ups in newspapers…but the gist of it is simple: it’s about international trade and cooperation. You really don’t need to know all the ins and outs to be in favour of the treaty. The treaty isn’t about membership in the European Union.”
Do you believe higher education will be affected by the agreement in any way?
“The agreement could lead to new forms of collaboration. It won’t happen all at once but it remains interesting for niches. Eastern European countries are strong in mathematics and physics, for example. And perhaps Slavic languages as well. The treaty could bring added value for some scientists. Additionally, it will make it easier for Ukrainian students to come here and study. That’s meaningful for our students as well. It’s enriching for all involved when different cultures meet.”
Are many students expected to come from Ukraine to The Netherlands?
“There was a time when we had a lot of Russian students, and they are still here. So why wouldn’t students from Ukraine want to come here? In the ongoing tide of trade and political reforms, social collaboration between all kinds of institutions will also emerge, and this includes higher education. If you don’t want all that, you should vote ‘no’ in the referendum. Otherwise, vote for the treaty.”