According to the committee led by Gerard Mols, emeritus professor of Criminal Law and former rector magnificus of Maastricht University, there are various circumstances at RSM ‘that could pose a risk for the integrity of academic practice.’ For example, additional activities are not always mentioned, and it is unclear whether consultancy work is also included under additional activities.
Lack of clarity and transparency
The committee also finds it dubious that academics from RSM may work within the EUR Holding. That creates a ‘lack of clarity and transparency’. Furthermore, the committee revealed that the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice is ‘not always applied’ within the RSM BV and the EUR Holding. As a result, it is unclear ‘which core values apply’, and there is no monitoring of the activities of RSM academics within the Holding.
Nor does the organisational structure receive much approval from the Mols committee. The relationship between the faculty, the RSM BV and the Holding is complicated. “Consequently, it is not always clear who is responsible for what, which can create a vacuum for free riders.”
Although rules and procedures for safeguarding academic integrity are in place, the committee emphasises that there must be compliance within the commercial departments of RSM and the rest of the university. In addition, RSM must look at the culture within the faculty: “The relative autonomy of – particularly senior – professors can create a culture in which staff members do not feel free to express their opinion about academic integrity.”
Influence on education
RSM entered into various agreements with companies that describe the collaboration between the company and the faculty. In two of those contracts, there are provisions offering the company the opportunity to influence the curriculum and student profiles and to view student CVs. That is the case, for example, in the contract between Shell and RSM: The main aim of this SG is: (…) c. For Shell to potentially influence the design of the RSM curriculum and the profile of students who attend the BSc/MSc/MBA programmes.”
The committee calls the formulation of the contracts ‘very unfortunate’, but did not find any evidence of such influence being exercised on the curriculum or the profile of students. However, the committee does wonder whether providing student details is not contrary to privacy legislation.
Paid guest lectures
The committee also found various sponsor contracts for the honours programmes. Companies pay RSM a sum between 1,500 and 15,000 euros in exchange for the opportunity to give guest lectures, recruit students and use the company logo on the educational material. The Mols committee has no objection to guest lectures and recruiting activities. However, it does oppose the use of the sponsor logo: “This can easily give the impression that the company is co-responsible for the content and form of the programme, while the responsibility lies exclusively with the faculty.”