There are more than 2.500 signatures on a petition opposing the appointment of VVD politician, Pieter Duisenberg, as chairman of the university association VSNU.

The petition was launched by the action group ReThink UvA that previously opposed University of Amsterdam’s policy. In particular, it galls the scholars that as a member of the Lower House, Duisenberg pushed for scholars’ political leanings to be scrutinised.

Recreational studies

But they also take umbrage with other opinions he holds. For example, he believes that popular ‘recreational studies’ should disappear. “When the UWV’s registration numbers for a study are high, then supply really has to be looked at. We do so already with new studies, but we now also want to do so with existing programmes.”

Duisenberg also wanted to partially reserve revenues of the lending scheme in order to resolve the problems at technical universities. That earned his party a great deal of flack: shouldn’t students from all programmes profit equally from additional investments made in education?

Those behind the petition argue he isn’t the right person to “fight for true autonomy for the universities and colleges in this country. He lacks the credibility and support necessary in carrying out his new position.”

It’s difficult to ascertain how many signatories are actually involved with the university. Some work at the UvA as a professor or lecturer; others, as outsiders, seem particularly to oppose the VVD and neoliberalism.

“Leave the VSNU”

The petition isn’t the only indication of criticism regarding the appointment. The UvA’s central student council has previously stated that with Duisenberg as chairman, the Amsterdam university must now leave the VSNU.

However, the UvA has expressed full confidence in Duisenberg, and says it has taken the students’ appeal onboard. Nor did the university association VSNU appear to be impressed.

Within governor circles there’s scant discord about the appointment. Everyone has congratulated Duisenberg on his appointment, and one assumes that he shall promote the universities’ interests the best he can.