Law student Daisy Ruijter is Minister of Inclusive and Sustainable Economics in the first ‘student cabinet’. This cabinet is an initiative of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). The aim is to draw the attention of the future new cabinet to the contribution that academic research can make to resolving current issues like climate change and a healthier economy. Each university nominated a student who was given a ministerial post in the cabinet and proposed a ministry appropriate to the discipline of the university.

Mentors help with sustainable projects

In her chapter of the coalition agreement, Ruijter not only appeals for more attention for climate change but also for a greater focus on deprived groups in society, such as low-income families and young employees. She proposes that municipal councils appoint mentors to involve the population in sustainable projects and give them the opportunity and network to implement them.

Van der Duijn Schouten is delighted with the initiative. “We don’t want students to copy politicians, but to add something new. Continue to ask critical questions; that’s more important than giving answers.”

The dean says that he will consult Ruijter more frequently on developments like a sustainable campus, and he hopes that the views of the student cabinet will be heard by politicians in The Hague.

A minister from every university

Daisy Ruijter has been a member of the student cabinet since 29 March. Besides several existing ministerial posts (Social Affairs, Foreign Affairs), there is also a Minister of Lifelong Development (Open University) and a Minister of The New Delta Works (TU Delft). The prime minister is from the University of Twente.

In these weeks, the members of the student cabinet are all presenting the coalition agreement to their Executive Boards, and in the coming months will be presenting their ideas to Ministries and politicians. Outgoing Minister of Education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, also received the coalition agreement.

A pure energy bomb

Just like a real cabinet, the students meet weekly, online for now, to discuss what they have been doing that week as a Minister. Last week, the students met each other for the first time for the official photo. “We are a pure energy bomb,” Ruijter describes the fourteen-member cabinet that has been appointed until the end of 2021.

Next week, Minister Ruijter will address an EUR meeting and meet a senior official from the Ministry of Economic Affairs about innovation of the economy.


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