No universities have the registration of professors’ side jobs in order

Universities have a poor view of the side jobs of thousands of top researchers. Its mandatory registration is a mess. Some institutions, contrary to the agreement, do not have a register at all.

news hour gained access for the first time to the internal registers of fourteen universities and seven academic medical centers. Numerous explanations have been put forward that the registers are not in order. Think of shaky IT systems, administrative errors and inattention. On the other hand, professors do not always give up part-time jobs, do not ask for the necessary permission or perform incidental tasks commercially in a way that is contrary to their scientific independence.

Nearly 7,000 professors work in the Netherlands. Only 4,200 professors are listed with their part-time jobs in the required registers. A selection of professors who does not are mentioned in the registers show that information from hundreds of professors is missing. Information that can be found in the registers often turns out to be outdated, incomplete or incorrect when checked.

See the proportions below:

News hour / Lars Boogaard

The results are in contrast to information that then Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven sent to the House of Representatives in 2021. In response to questions from SP, she reported that 97 percent of professors have given up side jobs online. But that is not correct either. Inquiries show that most universities have probably not checked to what extent the information provided is in fact correct.

Bijob is part of it, but …

It is not surprising that professors have part-time jobs and are encouraged. Professors are asked to apply their knowledge in society. But it must be transparent what interests professors have in addition to their scientific work. In addition, the university must give permission for this. In this way, the quality and independence of science are monitored, and the professors’ assistantships are prevented from colliding with the interests of science. Consider, for example, the impact of corporate or lobbying organizations on research questions or conclusions.

“Players who have an interest in the knowledge you produce want to do business with you,” says Arco Timmermans, professor of public affairs. “With your own BV or supervisory staff in the field where you are a scientist, there is a risk of a conflict of interest and it can affect the integrity of science. That is not why we have universities with scientists who teach and produce knowledge.”

“Confidence in science and transparency have everything to do with each other,” adds Lex Bouter. He is Professor of Scientific Integrity at the Free University of Amsterdam. “Trust is difficult without transparency. This is not acceptable, it needs to be improved.”

This is not possible. We need to do something about that.

Pieter Duisenberg, chairman of the University Association UNL

Meaghan Polack is president of the PNN PhD Association. “Professors are our bosses,” she replies. “They can therefore also come up with suggestions for adjusting things along the way in your research. Then the results are affected step by step. And it can be beneficial for the professor himself if, for example, he has shares in a company that benefits from the results of the research.” research.”

“Disturbing,” said D66 Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf in a response. Science cannot 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. “

Small universities better than the larger ones

The picture is different from university to university. Smaller universities such as the Open University, the University of Twente and Tilburg University have better recorded the professions and behavior of their professors.

We found many errors at larger universities such as Erasmus University in Rotterdam and the University of Groningen. In the latter case, more than half of the bijo register was found to contain errors and incompleteness. The university did not even have a register of the professors working at the academic hospital UMC Groningen. After questions about this from news hour put its employees to work to still install it.

Universities argue that part-time jobs can be found in professors’ staff files. It is to news hour do not check to what extent this is true.

The university association UNL helped news hour by collecting the records of other universities. The association is shocked by the results. “It is not possible. We must do something about it,” said chairman Pieter Duisenberg. “Transparency is the cornerstone. So when using your expertise, everyone should be able to weigh whether they are addicted.” The universities united in UNL say they will work to get control of the registration of assistant professorships.

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