The editorial desk of U-Today, the independent news site of the University of Twente sent an open letter to Minister Van Engelshoven. In their letter six editors asserted that documents and meetings of participation in decision-making bodies are increasingly being declared confidential, a practice that is impeding journalism. They called on the Minister to introduce clear rules of play.
Transparency and openness in higher education are of considerable importance, stressed Van Engelshoven. But there are sufficient rules already in place, she writes: “The underlying principle adopted in the Enhanced Governance Powers (Educational Institutions) Act is ‘public, except when privacy considerations are involved.’ And then there is also the Government Information (Public Access) Act.”
“Curtailing transparency is something that has to be properly justified”, she continues. “Institutions will have to present a good reason if access to documents is restricted or if policy documents and reports aren’t made public or shared. That’s why I want to stimulate dialogue at institutions instead of the knee-jerk response of extra legislation from the government. That’s why my response to the call for extra rules is: engage in productive dialogue with each other and make clear agreements on transparency and the scope of confidentiality.”