Which elements of Dutch HE should we ‘foster’ i.e. be proud of and value most?
The stronger research universities do very fine research and scholarship. NWO (and to a lesser extent, the research and innovation system) while no doubt capable of improvement, do what they do very well when compared with similar agencies in other nations.
There is no question that in the global knowledge economy – to simplify – the Netherlands performs very well, if not quite as well as, say, Switzerland. A good mix of very strong universities and across the board capacity, and a liberal, questioning, practical intellectual culture evident in many locations. Perhaps some further concentration in the strongest universities could lead to a front rank university at the level of the better Americans or Oxford which would be good for the nation.
Accreditation and quality assurance work fairly well. The pastoral care of students is good in most places. There is a curiousity about the larger world, though insularity also persists in some quarters.
Which elements should we be most selfcritical about and take the courage to improve/change in order to make HE more effective and valuable for society?
The OCW-department is a poor instrument of government. It does not fully comprehend tertiary education and national system steering is haphazard and weak. It lacks a strong sense of the global world or the world of work.
National investment is deteriorating and ways to increase both public and private investment must be found. The HBOs are betwixt and between different roles. Student streaming and segmentation are too early and too firm and there is too little adult education. Migrant families are partly locked out and there is a widespread tendency to deny both their problems and their identities.
Immigration policy is not helpful e.g. erects barriers to the recruitment of top research talent. Too many very bright people are lost at PhD and post- doc stages compared to the number who return or are recruited from foreign countries.
What element from your work and visit to Dutch HE is still a vivid memory?
My strongest impressions were formed in a ten day visit to Leiden University, which was four months after the Review visit. I formed a very good impression of many parts of Leiden, e.g. the Institute of Asian Studies: first class, as good as any in the world.
Also the medical school where I talked to some fine researchers. The University leadership was very smart, globally aware and strategic. Good to see things done so well.
In relation to the Review-team visit, my abiding memory is the disorganized and small- minded character of much of our dialogue with departmental personnel. Things did not start off well when neither the Minister nor the head of the higher education division spent more than a few moments at our opening briefing session.