Solid boost for education and research with first €60 million for profiling and cooperation
All university sector plans for sciences, social sciences and humanities, medicine and engineering & technology approved
Minister Dijkgraaf today approved the first part of the university sector plans based on the positive recommendation of the National Sector Plans Committee. The Minister will make a total of €60 million available for 2022. In the spring of 2023, the remaining funds – amounting to a structural total of €200 million – will follow. Pieter Duisenberg, president of Universities of the Netherlands: 'We are making substantial investments in the foundations of universities by means of the sector plans. For example, universities and university medical centres wish to appoint around 1500 extra FTEs in the coming years. This will allow us to seriously reduce the workload and make a targeted contribution to major social challenges such as the digital transition, climate change and safety.'
In the administrative agreement on higher education and science, it was agreed that approximately one billion euros would be invested in higher education and science every year. The higher education sector is keen to use these funds to get its foundations in order, offer scope for talent and increase the impact of education and research. At €200 million per year, the sector plans are an important prerequisite for this. In the sector plans, the various academic fields indicate which priorities and bottlenecks they can see and how they plan to tackle them. In addition to more employees and a lower workload, the plans ensure judicious choices on profiling, cooperation and the division of tasks between universities. The plans were drawn up by the deans of the relevant faculties.
NFU president Bertine Lahuis: 'Our society is facing enormous challenges in the areas of health and care. In view of the major social issues, it is important to strengthen the strong knowledge position of the Dutch UMCs with applications that benefit citizens and patients alike. This applies in particular to those areas in which investments are lagging behind and where social gains can be expected.' In the Health Acceleration Sector Plan, the Medical and Health Sciences identify three themes in this context: prevention, data-driven innovation and the chain from fundamental research to application. The allocated investments are necessary in order to better prepare the sector for the society of the future, without increasing the workload of the staff even further and in an irresponsible manner.
Social sciences and humanities
The Social Sciences are specifically opting to strengthen the discipline of education science and the teacher-training programmes, and a substantive investment in five themes: youth resilience, psychiatric disorders, the human factor in new technologies, social transition and behavioural change, and social inequality and diversity. The Humanities are choosing to strengthen research and education in languages and cultures, and are investing in two additional themes: human AI and cultural heritage. The cooperation between all SSH domains (Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Economics) will be strengthened in an interdisciplinary programme: ‘Prosperity, participation and citizenship in a digital world’. The SSH sector plan will lead to permanent assistant professor positions, as well as additional investments in research infrastructure and the associated lab and data management support.
The Science Sector Plans reinforce the disciplines of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Astronomy, Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The sciences also focus on three major social and scientific challenges; 1. Climate and energy 2. Safety and health and 3. Biodiversity and the living environment. These are three important transitions that call for cross-border research, providing opportunities for collaboration with other academic fields. The sector plans will create a total of around 330 new positions, including 230 academic staff (FTEs). This investment in more academic staff will also lead to a significantly improved student/staff ratio, which will create more scope for student supervision.
Engineering and technology
The Engineering and Technology Sector Plans will strengthen the design engineering sciences, the construction disciplines and computer engineering. The sector plans focus on key technologies and four major social challenges: 1. Energy and sustainability, 2. Agriculture, water and food, 3. Health and care, 4. Safety. Innovative technology and technically trained people are essential for these social challenges. In addition, these investments ensure that the important linking role between the fundamental sciences and the social application of engineering and technology is strengthened. The sector plan aims to create a total of 320 new academic positions, including 213 with the investment in this initial round.