Van den Berg is a public administration expert specialising in transitions in the public sector. He is dean of the Frisian campus of the University of Groningen and also an endowed professor in Leiden.

Free and safe

Outgoing interim president Jouke de Vries praised Van den Berg as the ideal person to guide the universities through “challenging times”. Van den Berg himself says he wants to strengthen the mutual cooperation of universities and work towards a “free, safe and stimulating environment for all”.

The stakes are high for universities in the coming period. For example, forecasts point to falling student numbers. Already, some faculties are struggling with their finances.

The growth of universities in recent years was largely in the international intake, but a majority in the House of Representatives wants to reduce it. A few weeks ago, UNL announced its intention to curb that growth itself.


Jouke de Vries was temporarily in charge at UNL after the departure of Pieter Duisenberg. The latter also came from the VVD: he was a member of parliament for that party. Senate member Caspar van den Berg is a member of the Senate Education Committee. He is stepping down from this, due to his UNL appointment.

He also co-wrote the VVD’s latest election manifesto. In it, the party advocates putting the brakes on international intake, including a numerus fixus on English-language courses within study programmes. Last week, parliament voted, through a VVD amendment, in favour of such a numerus fixus.

2023-09-04 EUR Opening Academisch Jaar (Arie Kers) (27)

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