‘Hinting at resignation is particularly disrespectful’
With high interest, we (the initiators of the manifesto) followed the university council meeting concerning the future of the PhD Scholarship experiment. This is our brief response to the meeting.
In short: we are disappointed. The suggested improvements do nothing to enhance the legal certainty and equality of current PhD students who have to deal with the detriments of the experiment.
It has boiled down to the (also necessary) improvement of the provision of information, as to which the University is only able to give a more concrete implementation around March 2020. By this time, the second round of the experiment will already be submitted.
Furthermore, it became clear how little the university takes our problems seriously. Arguments concerning our equality are portrayed as greed. Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga even stated that we should not complain concerning our salary because bus drivers need to support their families with such amounts.
With the utmost respect concerning the profession of a bus driver, this comparison is irrelevant. However, this example does point out the university’s mentality towards us.
First, the university does not acknowledge the fact that many PhD candidates have families to support as well and are struggling to support them on only the PhD student pay. Second, the university does not (want to) understand that we want equal pay for equal work. As Cisca Wijmenga stated: go to the private sector if you want to earn big money.
PhD students made a clear choice to give up these ‘big salaries’ to work for their dream and in that aspect have declared loyalty to the university. The insinuation that we should quit our job if we do not accept the current conditions of the experiment – how detrimental they may be – is particularly disrespectful for our position.
The reality of the experiment is that PhD students feel this inequality on a daily basis, which makes many PhD students restless, required to work second jobs or even have burnouts. All affect (the quality of) the dissertations, let alone our personal lives.
Again, the ‘benefits’ of the experiment and the current implementation of our PhD positions do not outweigh the detriments and need to be addressed next to the information provision. Therefore, we urge the university council to maintain criticism for this as well as the fact that there most definitely is a hierarchy to our position and saying ‘no’ is met with resistance from all sides.
In conclusion, we do not accept the current conditions PhD students are in, nor the conditions of the second round of the experiment. Therefore, we will keep fighting for the termination of the experiment, equality and compensation as stated in the manifesto.
To anyone who is willing to fight for us, we would like to say thank you on behalf of the 220 PhD students who have signed the manifesto so far.
Martha E. Buit, representative of the initiatiors of the manifesto