Dutch Education Minister Wants Academics to Have Weekends

David Matthews:

Ingrid van Engelshoven wants to reduce stress and time pressure in academe by tipping the balance away from competitive grants and toward more stable support for universities, reversing a long-term research funding trend in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Speaking to Times Higher Education in the Hague, she hoped that reforms to Dutch academe would mean that in five to 10 years, academics would be able to do their research “within normal working hours.”

“So you don’t have to skip your vacation, skip your weekend, because you’re busy all week with teaching your students, designing your online courses [or] … drafting your applications for grants,” she said.

Dutch academe has witnessed a rising tide of dissatisfaction over what some academics see as intolerable stress. Earlier this year, universities were reported to the country’s employment regulator over hundreds of complaints about “structural overtime,” leading to family problems and burnout.