TU/e president Jan Mengelers: Dutch universities need support, not a lecture

TU/e Executive Board President Jan Mengelers points to an erosion of political support and public opinion for scientific education and research. He said this in his annual New Year message. In December 2018, the university had already drawn up a manifesto containing the most acute needs and ambitions. This message is supported by students and staff. 

Over the past six months, Dutch universities have regularly come under political fire. According to Mengelers, in his speech he said that this was a denial of the excellent position of the Dutch universities. “One would do more justice to individual universities by actually helping them rather than hijacking them.” The Eindhoven executive board president is annoyed by the suggestion that Dutch universities hoard an excessive amount of money and have huge reserves.

He is also concerned about The Hague’s intention to deprive universities of the possibility of decentralized selection (numerus fixus). Mengelers insists that the TU/e puts extra energy into quality and is committed to delivering properly educated students for industry.

Decentralized selection will hardly be possible

“Like all other universities, TU/e has worked incredibly hard in recent years to improve the quality of its teaching and research. It is not without reason that all Dutch universities worldwide are in the top 200 of best universities (25,000 in total!). We have also done something to reduce the educational burden. Namely, further limiting the intake of students and increasing educational support with dozens of teaching assistants. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science wants to make the introduction of a numerus fixus virtually impossible."

"Within a year, in my opinion, due to a change in the law, decentralized selection (read numerus fixus) will hardly be possible anymore. And Dutch or European legislation also preclude other forms of selection. This runs counter to our commitment to quality and controlled growth. Within a year, the means to be able to put a brake on intake will be taken out of our hands. And more sophisticated mechanisms are, by law, not available. So we will have to come up with them ourselves."

Manifesto

At the end of 2018, TU Eindhoven made a statement in consultation with students and staff to clarify its position. In that manifesto, the university mentions four points which, in its view, are immutable. Together with industry and our students, Eindhoven University of Technology is committed to quality above all else. It is in everyone’s interest not to compromise on the educational level of the Eindhoven engineer.

Quality means the following four points:
- Small-scale education/challenge-based learning with frequent personal contact
- Customization: training for industry, science and society
- Stimulating academic education and critical thinking; inspiring to tackle future challenges
- A lot of attention for experimentation in laboratories