After an arduous campaign, science hopes to achieve the nuances

After an arduous campaign, science hopes to achieve the nuances

Marcel Levy, chairman of the research-funding company NWO, did not dare gamble that the PVV would become the largest. “If they form an alliance with the VVD and NSC, we must also convey the message that knowledge and innovation are very important for the country, society and economy. Because there are some misunderstandings here and there.”

It’s a bit quick, but Levy wants to respond to the election results, which could have serious consequences for scientific research. The umbrella associations of universities and colleges are still studying the results.

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Knowledge migrants

Netherlands The Hague 20210409: Marcel Levy (photo by Harman de Jong).
Marcel Levy.

Photo by:
Harman de Jong

Levy says he would like to explain to politicians the difference between work migrants and knowledge migrants. With his NWO hat on, he has no opinion about migrant workers, but he does have an opinion about knowledgeable immigrants. “This is also very important for businesses, so if you attach great importance to the economy, you should pay attention to that,” he added.

According to him, universities cannot do without researchers and professors from abroad. Levy not only chairs the NWO, but is also president of the Knowledge Alliance, where knowledge institutions and the business community jointly emphasize the importance of education, research and innovation.

to talk

He thinks there’s something to talk about. “Umtzigt is a smart guy, so he will really understand,” Levi predicts. “The election campaign is often characterized by simple statements and simplification of problems. It would be very complicated if you said: I want these immigrants and I don’t want those. But I remain optimistic that the parties want to recognize the importance of the people who foster knowledge and innovation here. The facts speak for themselves.”

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According to him, it would also be better to discuss the large influx of foreign students and the importance of English language education. “Foreign students must simply be welcomed at technical universities, otherwise the Netherlands will kill itself. But I also dare to say out loud that I wonder why we offer an English-language study program in psychology. What does the Netherlands gain from this? This discussion is very good. But you have to To look at it by sector: does English language education add value to the country, yes or no? It would not be helpful to say in general: “We don’t want foreign students.”

And cuts on the horizon? It seems that disbursing funds for national cooperation within the framework of scientific disciplines – which the VVD advocated – is extremely difficult in his view. “I don’t know how many people have gotten permanent positions in these ‘sectoral plans’. Where does he put it? It’s a bit difficult to just stop.”

I am waiting

Diversity policy, climate research… It’s still unknown exactly what the consequences of the election will be, but according to Levy, it’s all about calmly explaining why it matters. There is still no coalition agreement. Levy confirms: “We do not yet know who will come to power. We only know who will be the first to try to form a government.” “So let’s wait and see.”

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