Movements against the new government: “It is as if they are closing an entire university.”

Movements against the new government: “It is as if they are closing an entire university.”

There are significant cuts in the agreement of the next four coalition parties. The total amount amounts to approximately one billion euros annually. For comparison: In 2022, the University of Amsterdam’s income was around this amount.

“If you make too many cuts, you end up closing one big university, or alternatively two or three smaller ones,” says Reince Budd of WOinActie.

For many years, this platform has campaigned for an increase in the research budget by €1 billion per year. This appears to have been successful when the previous government took office. Giving: “We shouted victory.”

Ramifications

Now he announces new measures in cooperation with unions. They want to show the consequences of the cuts and the importance of education and research. “To name a few: research into vaccinations, teacher shortages, judge shortages… these parties also find this important.”

He could give countless other examples, but does this make sense? “The far right has a problematic relationship with education and research,” Budd says. “You might almost ask: Are people against new knowledge? We are preparing for an aversion to institutes of knowledge.”

Geert Wilders recently spoke at a political conference in Hungary, where the freedom of researchers and journalists is under pressure. Is Bud afraid of galactic conditions? “Of course we fear that,” he says. “The indicators are not positive. Then you find yourself in a situation where independent journalists and scientists are under direct attack.

Freedom of the press

He seems more pessimistic (and combative) than KNAW’s president, Marilyn Dogterum. She is not yet afraid of the galactic conditions. In an interview with HOP, she said: “It’s really an exaggeration to say that the entire coalition is directly against science.”

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“But the VVD and the NSC have agreed to work with a party that certainly shows this trend,” Budd answers. “Then you can make a compromise, but it doesn’t go in the right direction. We fear that scientists will get less protection than they already have.”

He suspects things are moving more in Italy’s direction. He points to one Editorial Written by Frans Timmermans, leader of the GroenLinks-PvdA party, which shows how the far right in Italy is eroding the freedom of journalists, writers and researchers.

Budd: “Then you get, for example, a researcher calling the government far-right and the government then files a lawsuit against that researcher. The social sciences and humanities in particular could be in trouble. It could happen here too,” Wilders said recently a permit It was done against Frans Timmermans.

White strokes

Therefore WOinActie will take necessary action. The strategy the platform chooses also depends on the incoming minister. Bud: “If we know a name, it helps us direct the arrows. It can vary greatly. “I will not express hope yet, but things may be a little different if there is a minister from the VVD or the National Security Council.”

In any case, WOinActie wants to be present at the opening of the new school year in the city that the Minister is also visiting. There is also a knowledge festival in the future, where researchers will showcase what they have to offer. Perhaps there will be more serious measures, such as “white strikes” (refusal to work overtime) or days off from education.

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But Bud is disappointed that it is necessary. “Thanks to our actions, there has been some relief in recent years that will help ensure quality. This is now in jeopardy again.”

Together, the proposed cuts in the National Sector Plans and the Research Fund amount to €365 million per year. Fewer foreign students: €293 million. A late fine for slow students and a reduction in public transport card compensation for students abroad should result in €312 million a year.

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