‘We need to do better’

“Our current academic system of recognition and rewards has brought us countless scientific achievements. At the same time, we should always keep asking ourselves whether we are still bringing out the best in our academics. I don’t think we are. The current emphasis on the individual is threatening to come at the expense of the collective. The emphasis on quantity and competition is threatening to come at the expense of quality and collaboration. The emphasis on scientists who must excel at everything is threatening to come at the expense of diversity in talents and skills.

‘Are we still bringing out the best in our academics?’

That’s why we have to change our system of recognition and rewards. I am honoured to receive this important position paper that so many of you have embraced – myself included. It gives me hope to see how committed you are to taking concrete and meaningful steps to bring about a necessary transition. A transition towards a system that recognises leadership, education, impact and patient care, and not just publications and grants. Towards a system in which diversity is the norm and not just an ideal. Towards a system where Open Science is the standard, not the exception.

In short, a transition towards a system that focuses on collaboration. Collaboration between colleagues, between disciplines and between countries. It takes courage to join forces in this new journey beyond the boundaries of the unknown, and I appreciate that. Which is why you can expect me to do my utmost to support your ambitions. For example, by introducing a new education award here in the Netherlands, and by promoting your plans and ambitions abroad.

Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science

‘International collaboration’

Dutch universities, research institutes and research funders need to connect and collaborate internationally to truly transform the framework used to assess academics. The first step is implementation on the European level. Michael Murphy, president of the European University Association (EUA), Pieter Duisenberg, president of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and Koen Vermeir, co-chair of the Global Young Academy, all agree on this.

“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Duisenberg emphasises. “If the change isn’t international, we can’t succeed. The question is how to take this to the European level.” The conference’s position paper will be on the agenda of the EUA council meeting in January, Murphy says. “Next, we need to start a dialogue, both within the university and externally, with governments and research funders.”

‘We need to start a dialogue’

“We need to think about excellence in a different way,” Vermeir concludes, adding that he is pleased that so many representatives from other countries attended the conference. “I’m happy to work with you to take this global.”

Recognition & Rewards

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