True to tradition, Executive Board President Ed Brinksma used the opening to send a message to The Hague. In his speech, he referred to the plans of Minister of Education Dijkgraaf to prioritise the Dutch language in academic education as ‘a legislative proposal taken to the extreme’ that won’t be any help at all.
Even worse, according to Brinksma, the proposal will scare away people who might otherwise want to come to the Netherlands to work or study, and this will negatively affect the quality and reputation of Dutch universities. Especially given the tightness of the labour market, this would be far from ideal. “English, just like Latin used to be, is the language of academia, and therefore the language of education. It is the language that brings bright minds together.”
Brinksma recalled that the universities, as far back as 2017, requested ‘tools’ to help manage the intake of international students, and he made no attempt to hide his disappointment that Dijkgraaf’s plans mainly focused on the language of instruction.
Ties with the fossil fuel industry
Brinksma also said that the university would share the long-awaited list of collaborations with the fossil fuel industry ‘very soon’. During the various occupations last year, OccupyEUR requested clarity on these collaborations, demanding that all ties be severed. Brinksma added that, “I can already say that it is not a particularly long list.”
Mayor Aboutaleb, one of the other speakers at the opening, spoke derisively about the university’s police interventions during the occupations at EUR. “Last weekend, I had Extinction Rebellion occupy a bridge. I let them be. I did not have them removed.”
Abandoning them to their fate
The mayor went on to discuss the importance of internationalisation for the academic community, although he also pointed out the downside of not implementing measures. “We cannot simply abandon international students to their fate. We need to cooperate better to ensure sufficient housing for international students.”
This year, the Opening of the Academic Year was held at the Laurenskerk in the city centre. This event also marked the opening of the university’s 110th anniversary year.
During this gathering, Sociology lecturer Bonnie French received the Education Prize, IHG student Enoch Tabak received the Thesis Award and study association EFR received the Sustainability Award
This year’s guest speaker was Internet pioneer Marleen Stikker, who was invited to talk about the theme: The Future of Education. During her presentation, she called on universities to take a stronger stance towards large tech companies. “Universities should not simply hand over their data to Open AI. They should take their own position.”
An interview with Marleen Stikker will be published on this website later this week.