For now, the Minister for Education, Jet Bussemaker, does not wish to call for a nation-wide investigation of the ties between universities and the fossil fuel industry. She said so on Thursday afternoon in a Lower House debate on the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)’s relationship with fossil fuel companies.
On Wednesday, Sandra Beckerman, an MP for the Dutch Socialist Party, called for such a nation-wide investigation in an opinion piece in EM. She repeated the request in the Lower House on Thursday. She was prompted to do so by a report issued by the sustainability thinktank Changerism, which discussed the close relations between RSM and companies such as Shell. Beckerman said she would like to see similar studies carried out at all other Dutch universities.
For the time being, outgoing minister Bussemaker does not feel the need for such an investigation. She said she believed in the universities’ self-cleansing abilities and pointed out that Changerism’s accusations are currently being investigated by a committee. Bussemaker will not call for any other action until the results of that study have been released.
No say in the curriculum
She stated that she felt there was no ground to tighten the rules, pointing out that there are several codes of conduct and laws in place to protect the universities’ independence and academic freedom. Companies have no say in the curriculum taught at universities, the minister stressed once again, and she has not received any signs that companies dictate what happens.
For its part, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) does not favour an investigation, either. “All sorts of things are happening in the field of collaboration with the business community, and they are subject to good agreements and procedures,” VSNU spokesman Bart Pierik stated. “We trust that all universities comply with these rules and that they carry out thorough investigations if anything goes wrong.”