After two years of asking questions and even lawsuits, the editors of Nieuwsuur gained access to the side job registers at fourteen universities and seven university medical centers. Only 4,200 professors participated in this, while the Netherlands is said to have almost 7,000 professors.
Some of the missing professors held additional positions, according to a random sample. And the data that is in the registers often turns out to be outdated, incomplete or incorrect. Registration of side jobs and interests is mandatory to prevent scientific integrity from being compromised.
Many errors were found at, among others, Erasmus University, writes Nieuwsuur. It is not entirely clear what errors are involved. The TV program mentions former Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende, who since 2010 has been an unpaid professor in Rotterdam, and of which only one of his fifteen additional positions was on the register. Board of Directors President Ed Brinksma’s juxtaposition was also incomplete: his membership of the Board of Supervisors of Hogeschool Utrecht was not on the register. It has now been corrected.
Smaller institutions such as the Open University, the University of Twente and Tilburg University register the help activities of their professors better than the large ones. At the University of Groningen, more than half of the side job register contains errors and incompleteness. A register of professors at the academic hospital in Groningen is even completely missing.
Utrecht University also does not have a register. The university can only provide information about the side jobs that the professors themselves set up on their public site.
University Associations UNL, Nieuwsuur helped collect records, responds startled. “This is not possible. We have to do something about it,” says chairman Pieter Duisenberg. “Transparency is the cornerstone. So if you use your expertise, everyone should be able to weigh whether you are addicted.”
The association’s website still states that the universities have made significant progress in this area. By early 2021, 95% of all professors’ help activities would be online, compared to 87 percent in 2017.
D66 Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf calls the result of the investigation disturbing. “Science can not connect with society if it is not at the same time 100 percent transparent. I have to talk to the universities, because I want to hear what is being done. ”
Even university administrators and former ministers such as Jet Bussemaker and Jan Peter Balkenende do not have their data in order. The same goes for former Minister Ronald Plasterk.
The latter is striking: under his regime, it was specifically decided that the additional posts for professors should be public. That was in 2008. At the time, the university association was against, while the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences was in favor.
Since then, it has been regularly in the news that the professors’ assistant positions are not properly registered, with all the indignation it entails. HOP looked at the situation in 2009. Not good, was the conclusion. In 2011, the then cabinet again said that the additional positions should basically be public. The Green Amsterdamers wrote about it in 2014.
In 2013, Minister Jet Bussemaker refused to set up a national register and in 2015, she put the problem into perspective: Some things were private, so they did not need to be registered.
In recent years, there have been various signals that professors’ additional positions lead to breaches of integrity. Recently, Volkskrant and Folia wrote articles about double hats among professors of tax law and financial economics. Previous research conducted by Nieuwsuur in the Groningen ‘passport professor’ Dimitry Kochenov resulted in this follow-up research.
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