Recently there has been growing uneasiness surrounding the bursary system for PhD candidates at Dutch universities. In April 2013, a judge ruled that PhD candidates at the University of Groningen could be appointed as students with a scholarship, but the Dutch Tax Administration does not agree. Nevertheless, in May 2013 the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Jet Bussemaker, gauged the opinion of Dutch universities on an experiment with a bursary system for PhDs. In December 2013, the national PhD network PNN published a position paper on the issue. Although there are no indications that anything will change in Utrecht any time soon, it would not be the first time that the system is reformed.
In the nineties, an experiment was carried out in Utrecht (and elsewhere), similar to the experiment proposed by Bussemaker, with far-reaching consequences. Based on an archive that is in the possession of PrOUt we have written a reconstruction of what happened in the nineties; you can read more about that
- in the document “Overzicht Bursalensysteem” (in Dutch), or
- here (in English).
In short: the experiment failed. Since the current situation is not substantially different from the nineties, it is rather unlikely that the experiments will be successful this time around. For this reason, PrOut supports the petition of the “Actiegroep Promotiestudent” and will continue to monitor this situation closely.