The Rutte III cabinet decided to annually invest €70 million in academic research on a structural basis, using three sector plans. Making investments based on sector plans allows the selective expansion of research capacity and makes it possible to attract (new) research talent and increase the number of permanent appointments. This approach could also help achieve overarching goals, such as creating a future-proof range of educational opportunities and strengthening the strategic cooperation between institutions.
Autumn 2018: drafting sector views
The sector plans were drafted in several steps. First, three sector views were drawn up by two coordinators. Prof. Bert Meijer drew up views for the STEM sector. Prof. Mark Bovens did this for the social and behavioural sciences and the humanities (SSH). This was done in close coordination with the deans concerned. In the sector views, among other things, they outline which research areas require investment and how to make cooperation within the sector more effective.
From sector views to faculty plans
The Minister of Education, Culture and Science then appointed a STEM Sector Plan Committee (commissie Sectorplan Bèta en Techniek) and an SSH Sector Plan Committee for the period from 1 December 2018 to 1 December 2025. The committees advise the minister on the sector views, the university profiling plans and the allocation of resources. The committees will evaluate the financed activities after three years and then again after six years.
The coordinators presented their sector views to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science in late 2018. The minister approved the sector views, allowing the sector plan committees to set to work. The faculties involved were invited to submit faculty plans to the committees in early 2019, based on the sector views, indicating how they specifically intend to invest the available resources, in line with the sector view analysis. Based on these plans, the sector plan committees advised the Minister in the summer of 2019 on allocating the sector plan resources to the faculties. The Minister adopted these recommendations and allocated the funds to the universities.
Of the €70 million available for the sector plans, €60 million is intended for STEM domains and €10 million for the social and behavioural sciences and humanities domain. Of the funds, 20% is to be distributed by NWO in a competitive process, while 80% is to go directly to the universities. The NWO funds, however, were added directly to the direct government funding by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science following the report of the Van Rijn committee.
Universities are currently in the process of filling the allocated permanent positions. In total, this concerns approximately 350 new permanent positions in the STEM domain and XX in the SSH domain.
The framework provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science for the sector plans can be found here (in Dutch). (https://www.vsnu.nl/files/documenten/OCW%20Kader%20sectorbeelden%20en%20sectorplannen(1).pdf)
The STEM sector view and the advice of the STEM Sector Plan Committee can be found here (in Dutch). (https://www.sectorplan-betatechniek.nl/bestanden)