Barclays Financial Center

The outcome of the battle for ABN Amro between the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Barclays will not just affect the banking sector but also have an impact on Dutch higher education. The Volkskrant reports this morning that Barclays wants to invest 20 Million Euros in the Facult of Economics of the University of Amsterdam. The university can use the money to attract top professors in order to improve the quality of its education and research. In return, the faculty will change the name of 'part of its faculty' into the Barclays…Read more …

‘Competitive’ salaries in academia

In both the Netherlands and Australia the salaries of the top university leaders lead to controversy. The Australian reports that all but one of the leaders of Australia’s Group of 8 Universities earn more than 600,000 Australian Dollars (378,000 Euros). Top earner was John Hay of the University of Queensland with 655,000 Euros. But the Australian found even higher figures for La Trobe University where someone (probably the former VC) received over 930,000 Euros! In the Netherlands, the salaries and bonuses in the public sector are a hot issue as well. Many claim…Read more …

Excellence for Productivity 2

Two days ago I had a post on the Dutch report Excellence for Productivity of the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. A good study that deserved some more attention. I wrote a Dutch article on the outcomes of the report for ScienceGuide:Adriaan Hofman van de RuG presenteerde recent nog een pleidooi voor meer evidence based discussies in het onderwijs. In dit licht, moet het onderzoek 'Excellence and Productivity' verwelkomd worden door belanghebbenden en belangstellenden in het Nederlandse onderwijs. Terwijl vaak maar aangenomen wordt dat excellentie bijdraagt aan economische groei en dat in…Read more …

Smart dumb people and dumb smart people

The Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) published an interesting study yesterday. The report - Excellence for Productivity? - investigates the position of the Netherlands vis-a-vis other OECD countries in terms of their skill distribution.The findings in short:The Dutch perform very well on averageThe 'not so bright' Dutch students are smart compared to their 'not so bright' counterparts in other countries.The smartest students in the Netherlands (the top (99th) percentile) are less brilliant than their brilliant counterparts in other OECD countries.The findings mainly refer to pre-tertiary education. According to the CPB, the…Read more …

Legrain on immigrants

Tonight I attended a lecture (in the Sydney Ideas Series) from Philippe Legrain on his latest book: Immigrants: your country needs them. It was also the occasion of his Sydney book launch but luckily - in this open world - I ordered the book a month ago from the UK (and thereby avoided the high Australian book prices).   Legrain's lecture will be available on the University of Sydney podcasts site, but here's a short impression of both book and lecture. In short, Legrain's message is: Let them in! Because it's better for…Read more …

The End of the University

On 8 January, at the 375th birthday (Dies Natalis) of the University of Amsterdam, University Professor Louise Fresco gave the annual anniversary speech (Dies rede) to the university community. Unfortunately, the address is only available in Dutch. With the risk of totally mutilating and distorting Fresco's brilliant style of writing, I want to share a few (translated) passages of her magnificent speech. In her address, Louise Fresco reported about research that was done by Dr. Hakim Sarastro of the University of Oeloemia. Part of Dr. Sarastro's research on European higher education was conducted…Read more …

Travel report

Here, somewhere between Los Angeles and Sydney, I decided it's time to resume posting again. I'm returning from a very long and interesting trip through Indonesia, Malaysia, India, the Netherlands, Portugal, Canada and the US. In three of the countries I have conducted interviews for my research: Indonesia (at Institut Teknologi Bandung and Universitas Gadjah Mada), Malaysia (Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Malaya) and the Netherlands (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and Technische Universiteit Delft).My research analyses the way in which nation states and universities respond to the increasing importance of knowledge for economic development and…Read more …

All in 1 week

In the past week, three remarkable men have passed away. The best writer of all times, one of the most innovative artists of all times and one of the most influential economists of all times.Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006) passed away last Sunday (30 April).For me, his numerous books, short stories and essays are the most remarkable works I have ever read. Both his use of language and his choice of topics make that his books and stories portray a lively picture of Indonesian societies and cultures. Toer brought history to live, from the…Read more …

Spitting Image

It's been a bit over a year now since I moved to Australia. Roughly 399 years after another Dutchman, Willem Janszoon, the first European to visit Australia. In honour of this 400 year anniversary, Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende is visiting Australia this week. He wrote an article about the Dutch and the Ozzies which was published in the Australian yesterday.Obviously it is not hard for a Dutchman to feel at home here. He claims that despite the differences, The Netherlands and Australia are well matched:Our societies share the same values: freedom, democracy,…Read more …

Dutch Arrogance?

Although this week the US and the UK reported that their numbers of foreign students were increasing again, the Dutch Immigration Office says that the number of granted student visas has decreased from 8800 in 2002 to 5900 in 2004. Part of this decrease is due to the EU enlargement since students from Central and Eastern Europe don't have to report to the Immigration Office anymore. The number of students from China and Morocco decreased by one third while for some other countries like South Africa, Iran and Ghana the number decreased by…Read more …

Knowledge talks

Another example of the way that certain ‘talk’ sometimes starts leading a life of its own. The Netherlands like to benchmark themselves against other nations (what nation doesn’t?). Especially in the field of science and innovation policies, the Dutch have had a close watch on Finland for a long time.But now the Dutch Scienceguide publishes an interview with the Dutch Prime Minister on the Dutch innovation policy. In the interview, another country enters the stage as an example for the Dutch knowledge society: Canada. Rather strange that at the same day ‘Digitalhomecanada’ publishes…Read more …

Dutch images

In between coming back from a visit to the ANZCIES conference in Coffs Harbour (and a bit of scuba diving; I’ll post some pictures on my website soon) and getting ready for leaving to the US, I found a small article on the Dutch Scienceguide.The Free University of Amsterdam recently held a survey on the image of various academic disciplines. They surveyed young people between 11 and 24. The results? 21% of them thought of Astrology as a very scientific discipline, while only 12% and 9% thought of Political Science resp. Public Policy/Public…Read more …

Disunity in binarity

In the Netherlands, the discussion about the sustainability of a binary system has again come up. The best examples of countries that have abolished their binary systems are probably the UK and Australia. Maybe the Dutch politicians should take a look at the developments in Australia.Minister Nelson’s  recent push for graduate school universities and the push for students to complete a general degree before entering elite graduate schools at the nation's sandstone universities seems to be a return to a binary system. Maybe not of polytechnics and universities in this case, but a binary…Read more …