University staff all over the country have signed the petition #WOinactie. This petition calls for more money for scientific education to reduce the workload for teaching staff. Last week, a spokesperson for the Executive Board announced that EUR does not support the petition. Three EUR staff members respond to this and criticise the pressure of work at EUR.

Nearing the end of their tether

“Within the department, we operate on a shoestring,” says PhD student Pieter van den Heede. “There is a tiny number of staff in proportion to the number of students. As a result, many of my colleagues are nearing the end of their tether and no longer have time for research, despite the fact that we are fundamentally also a research institution. I therefore find it very unfortunate that Erasmus University does not support the petition.”

Keeping a thousand plates spinning

Bram Steijn, professor of public administration, is currently involved in a research on pressure of work at EUR. He finds it remarkable that the university does not support the petition, since it is not a politically hard petition but just an observation. “I would understand the lack of support from EUR if it was a strategic conviction: so that it wouldn’t weaken their position in the new CAO negotiations.”

According to Steijn, the workload at the university is very high. “About fifty percent of the staff say that they find the pressure of work too much. I notice myself that I have to keep a thousand plates spinning,” he says. “I work 40 hours a week just answering my mails and then I have to teach as well. I don’t have any time for research. If I want to do that, I have to do it in my spare time.”

Working out of loyalty

According to Gabry Vanderveen, associate professor of Criminology, the overall trend in Dutch education is unhealthy: “Due to structural cuts in education in recent years, the workload has increased so much that staff is stressed out, but continues to work out of loyalty until they drop.”

She believes that more money must go to education: “Politics and society need to invest more in education because it benefits society as a whole. Then more teachers can be recruited so that they have less work pressure and smaller classes, and can focus more on individual students.”