"U bent niet de motor van de groei, maar wel de sleutel die de
motor laat aanspringen," daagt de nieuwe CDA-lijsttrekker de
kennissector en het hoger onderwijs uit.
Op een recente werkconferentie van Britse en Nederlandse
universiteiten sprak Buma, toen nog fractieleider. Hij
begon met de grote belofte van zijn eigen academische loopbaan. Die
had immers Groningen gecombineerd met niets minder dan Cambridge.
"That was a an excellent start for a great career, but somewhere
along the line it went wrong, because I ended up in politics. Now
my life is made up with making the best of that."
Britse toets en Hollandse zorgen
ScienceGuide had al gemeld, dat het CDA in de
begrotingsonderhandelingen voor 2013 zou inzetten op
hervormen, saneren en investeren waar het de kennissector betreft.
Juist om groei en werkgelegenheid zo snel mogelijk te herstellen en
waar mogelijk te behouden tijdens de recessie. Buma werkte
deze denklijn nader uit in een speech doorspekt met Britse humor en
In zijn betoog werkte hij eerst de gedachte en noodzaak van
groei en groeiherstel uit.
"Today's blunt facts show that the Netherlands has a bleak
economic outlook for 2012 with a set back of 3/4 %. The deficit for
2013 is predicted at 4,5 %, where the European target to meet is
-3%. Somewhere along April Holland has to present the European
Commission with a thorough plan as to how to meet that goal. Not
if, but how.
These facts bring me to the prime minister's residence in The
Hague, where the coalition is negotiating since last week. We meet
on a daily basis, the two coalition partners Liberals and Christian
Democrats, and the supporting right wing Freedom Party. We are
assigned with a formidable task, of tightening next year's budget
with maximum 1,5%, which is a cut unseen in recent history.
Under the dark clouds of economic decline, in a politically
unstable atmosphere. The center parties such as Christian-democrats
and Labour are in decline, and the political outposts left and
right on the rise. Who claims that Britain's present day political
situation is difficult, hasn't experienced the Dutch. So when I
read "higher education at the heart of growth", I first ask: what
growth? It would seem more accurate to talk of "higher education at
the heart of decline" or at least, "higher education in times of
De zware klappen van de dubbele recessie
Met enkele harde cijfers schetste de fractieleider wat de crisis
in 2008 en die van de schulden-en-euro van het voorbije jaar de
Nederlandse economie aan groei en concrete welvaart heft gekost. En
nog aan het kosten is.
"The banking crisis of 2008 has cost us in the long run about 5%
of our average growth. It now seems that last year's sovereign debt
crisis may cost us another 3%. In 2008 the Dutch government
supported banks with billions, it bought ABN-Amro, and the then
government agreed on a short term economic stimulus package of €6
billion, together with a long term saving package of €5
Sadly enough looking back the stimulus hasn't worked and the
savings never fully have been filled in. It left us with rising
unemployment and a debt that rose from under 50 to over 65 % of
gdp. we do not yet know the effect of the present crisis, but it is
evident that the national debt speedy rises again. It is no longer
an option spending ourselves out of the crisis.
Financial crises are fiercer than cyclic economic crisis. The
loss of wealth is bigger, up to 8% already, and other than cyclic
crises, the gap with the previous growth path is not refilled by
extra economic growth after the crisis. Quite the contrary, a long
time period of relatively low growth is likely, as the examples of
Japan and Sweden show.
So, we are 8% poorer, have a bleak economic outlook, have to cut
expenditure as never before, in a political unstable environment.
You can imagine, preparing for the conference, I seriously
considered buying a one way ticket out of the country, a stopover
in Manchester and then on to Aruba! By the way, an Island with a
growth of over 10% this year."
De impact op en van hoger onderwijs
Hoe kan het hoger onderwijs in zo'n penibele situatie het hoofd
boven water houden en zelfs krachtig bijdragen aan groei en
herstel? Buma gaf aan, dat daarin niet alleen maar
"Here we have had days of lively debate on how to promote higher
education as an engine for growth. And it seems that we end up with
an agreement on the fact that universities produce growth. I attend
many conferences. They can be on all issues. It could be
about multinationals at the heart of growth, or small businesses at
the heart of growth, consumer confidence at the heart of growth, or
even development aid at the heart of growth.
In present day society universities compete with many players
that claim a position on being on the heart of growth. So what
makes universities differ from other institutions when it comes to
growth? It is a fact that investment in education is a long term
investment. First education, than research, then comes the result,
than the investment and at last the benefit. So universities are
the engine. Or even better, they are the key to the car
Hoger onderwijs als autosleutel
"Not only in economic terms, also in social terms universities
are the key to the engine. In the sixties they were the key to
democratization , in the eighties they were the key to economic
liberalisation and now they are the key to globalization. In this
respect universities often feel lost, certainly in the Netherlands
in an atmosphere hesitant towards globalization in general,
and immigration in particular. It seems that universities try
to turn the key, but the engine won't start running. There is
It is my opinion that in the heart of this lies a growing gap in
society between people who experience the benefits of globalization
and the information revolution and those who experience the
problems. The former are the young, the better educated. The latter
are the elderly, the lower educated . The ones who take their
chances against those who see threats.
This is not primarily an economic division, but one based on
identity, or its loss. People who are afraid of globalization turn
against its visible exponents: immigrants, international bankers,
employers with bonuses. Until the sixties in this country there was
a long and accepted division along the lines of class and here in
the Netherlands also along the line of religion and
'levensovertuiging'. That division has vanished.
But then came this new division, perhaps even more difficult to
surpass than earlier divisions. And universities are situated
solely on one side of that divide. A large part of society is on
the other side. Politically they are emancipating, finding their
way to new political parties. Here in Holland the Socialist Party
and Freedom Party.
Together we can indulge ourselves here in self-confidence about
our international approach and open mindedness. But outside the
world looks completely different. Universities are aliens for many
there, far away from everyday life. In Groningen the Campus was
named after its original function, Paddepoel, frogs pool, a swamp
where nobody came. Universities have their eyes focused on the
outside world, but they will have to work harder to stay with their
feet on the ground."
Combineer wereldwijde blik met hechte
Voor velen in de samenleving blijven het HO en de kennissector
een ver van mijn bed show. Dat besef wilde Buma nog eens adresseren
in het gezelschap van Britse en Nederlandse academische experts.
Ook die 'Bildungsferne' burgers moeten de politiek én de
sector zelf zien te winnen voor een publieke en
financiële prioriteit aan investeringen in kennis.
"We can find the key to a new society, if we are able to combine
the world scale of globalization with the human scale of society.
For universities it is an asset to have 25% of staff from
abroad, to many ordinary people it is another sign of their society
being taken over by 'the others' This morning Rod Coombs put this
picture very clear when he asked 'the people's question': 'Whatever
did the universities do for us?'
A dangerous question maybe, but for many a daily feeling. And
Pauline van der Meer Mohr yesterday was very right, when she said
Rotterdam, Delft and Leiden would not merge but closely work
together. For universities it may sound futile, but for the people
it is not. The future is not for universities that
internationalize. The future is for universities that combine the
global scale with its local community and connections.
A serious task lies ahead for all of us. Arriving in this
building we are warmly welcomed with the sign of the museum
of science and industry. It is my nightmare that in two decades
foreigners are welcomed at the airports of London, Amsterdam and
Manchester with signs saying: 'Welcome to Europe, the world's
leading Museum of Science and Industry'. It is my dream that
visitors will be welcomed by signs saying: 'Welcome to Europe, the
key to the world's engine'."