A report by the Inspectorate of Education published last Friday stated that there are serious issues concerning the social safety of employees at TU Delft. It referred to ‘a pattern where the neglect of care can persist’.

The Inspectorate alleges ‘mismanagement’ in the area of social safety. According to the law, the Education Minister can therefore demand that the Supervisory Board take measures to improve the situation. Whether he will do so depends on TU Delft’s response ‘to the issues identified by the Inspectorate’, outgoing minister Dijkgraaf wrote to the House of Representatives.

Direct challenge

TU Delft has opted to mount a direct challenge in its response to the report. While stressing that social safety ‘deserves priority, ongoing attention and improvement’ and that it ‘takes the Inspectorate’s recommendations on board in its improvement process’, it notes that the underlying investigation by the Inspectorate of Education is unsound.

The report allegedly contains ‘inaccurate, incomplete and poorly substantiated accusations’ against ‘the university, (groups of) employees and (groups of) managers’. According to TU Delft, there is no evidence of mismanagement and the report is causing ‘unacceptable and unnecessary damage’ to the university and its staff.

TU Delft therefore intends to submit the report to a civil court. The Executive Board and the Supervisory Board believe that such serious accusations should not be made ‘on the basis of a limited investigation’.


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Inspectorate accuses Delft University of Technology of mismanagement: ‘Care for employees is being neglected’

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The Inspectorate’s report has provoked many reactions. PhD students and women in particular are said to experience a lack of social safety in Delft. Promovendi Netwerk Nederland (PNN) sees this as confirmation of its own warnings that PhD students are a vulnerable group. “The social safety of PhD students should be the main priority in universities”, says PNN chair Benthe van Wanrooij.

Almost two years ago, a committee of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) published a report on the lack of social safety in Dutch academia. Professor of Social Psychology Naomi Ellemers, who chaired the committee, says in de Volkskrant that managers have difficulty empathising with their subordinates. “Being in a position of power as well as being part of a majority colours your perception. That has been proven often enough.”

The matter also continues to engage politicians. VVD MP Claire Martens-America says it is ‘bizarre that these situations occur’. She will keep a watchful eye on the issue.