Rector: ‘Scholarship PhDs aren’t paid the equivalent of a tip’

Council has terse discussion

Rector: ‘Scholarship PhDs aren’t paid the equivalent of a tip’

The RUG has definitively decided to apply for 650 new scholarship PhD positions. While the university council supported the board of directors’ plans this past Thursday, it did so reluctantly.
16 December om 13:45 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 17 December 2019
om 14:39 uur.
December 16 at 13:45 PM.
Last modified on December 17, 2019
at 14:39 PM.

Rob Siebelink

Door Rob Siebelink

16 December om 13:45 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 17 December 2019
om 14:39 uur.
Rob Siebelink

By Rob Siebelink

December 16 at 13:45 PM.
Last modified on December 17, 2019
at 14:39 PM.

The council has its doubts about the application itself, as well as the board’s conduct. In 2015, when the board applied for 850 positions, it supposedly promised the council the right to consent to a second round. But the current board says they do not remember this promise, nor do they feel consent is necessary.

This led to a terse discussion, with the board using some grandiose language: ‘If you don’t believe me, that’s a whole other problem’, said rector magnificus Cisca Wijmenga, while board president Jouke de Vries came out with: ‘The RUG’s future is at stake here’.

Unfair

Apart from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, which has only requested a few positions, the RUG is the only university participating in the scholarship PhD experiment. The experiment creates more PhD position at the university, and the student PhDs have more freedom to write their own research proposal and gain teaching experience.

But the scholarship PhDs have started to resent their situation. The promised advantages have not materialised, they say. They also do the same work as employed PhDs, yet are paid a scholarship that’s 500 euros less than the salary their counterparts receive, don’t amass a pension, and get no vacation pay.

Manifesto

Last week, the scholarship PhDs published a manifesto in which they demand the same rights as ‘ordinary’ PhDs. This manifesto has since been signed hundreds of times. Fellow scholarship PhDs at the UMCG said on Wednesday that they want to sue if they’re not compensated for their work.

Many in the university council sympathise with the student PhDs protests. If there’s a real difference in positions, a difference in pay is warranted, said Lorenzo Squintani with the science faction. ‘But there hardly is a difference, which doesn’t justify the difference in pay.’

Simon van der Pol with the personnel faction thinks that the experiment does have its merits. ‘But there’s a huge difference between scholarship PhDs and employed PhDs. Not everyone realised when they signed at the dotted line.’

Improvement

Cisca Wijmenga acknowledged that improvements are needed, especially when it comes to how the scholarship PhDs receive information, as well as their supervisors. ‘What can or can’t they ask? That’s not always clear.’ Scholarship PhDs are eligible for travel allowance. ‘But they don’t know that.’

After an adjournment, the university council conceded as Wijmenga promised a plan to improve the scholarship PhDs’ position. This plan will be presented to the council in the spring.

Not a tip

But the PhDs will not receive equal money to their employed counterparts, said Wijmenga and De Vries. ‘People do have the option to decline. If a salary is that important to them, they can go get a job in business.’

Wijmenga also said that 1,800 euros is a good number, and not equivalent to a tip. ‘A bus driver makes that same money and they have to support a family. Let’s put it in the proper context. These people are getting an education, they have the freedom to go to conferences. It’s not like they’re pinching pennies.’

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