Following a first survey in 2016, the educators’ trade union FNV Onderwijs en Onderzoek, in association with another trade union (VAWO), surveyed over 1,100 persons working at Dutch universities. 67 per cent of them said they still felt they had a high or very high workload. Academic staff were more likely to say so (76 per cent) than support staff (50 per cent).

71 per cent of all respondents said they believed their workload had increased in the last two years; 65 per cent said they had considered finding another job due to their high workload.

Not very effective

The respondents said that the plans drawn up by universities to reduce staff workload were not very effective just yet. At those universities where measures have actually been implemented, 62 per cent of respondents said their workload had stayed the same, and 29 per cent said it had actually increased. According to VAWO spokeswoman Marijtje Jongsma, this is because the universities “simply do not have enough employees to perform all the work to the required standard”.

In conjunction with the WOinActie action group, FNV and VAWO demand that the Minister for Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, reserve an additional €1.15 billion for universities. They also want the so-called Efficiency Cutback to be scrapped and more funds to be made available for government-funded research. University personnel will stage protest actions this week, and on Friday they will take part in the national education strike.

Increased workloads at EUR, too

High workloads constitute a considerable problem at Erasmus University, as well. Despite a newly developed ‘toolkit’ for managers, designed to tackle high workloads, and despite meetings and additional support, an employee satisfaction survey carried out in 2018 showed that the employees felt their workload had only increased. According to that survey, 52.3 per cent of employees felt their workload was ‘high’ or ‘far too high’, a 4.1 per cent increase over the 2016 figure.


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Support staff unhappy, high work pressure levels persist

The university’s support services (particularly the General Management Directorate and the