Mixed messages as academic year opens

Calls for more corporate investment in education, a new work ethic and a change in attitudes to master’s degrees, were the main themes of Monday’s keynote speeches marking the opening of the new academic year.

In his address, Jan Willem Oosterwijk, chairman of Rotterdam’s Erasmus University, argued that an internationally top class education is only possible with the support of industry and private donations.
‘You cannot expect a system with an average of one teacher for 23 students to compete with a system based on one teacher for 10 studetns,’ Oosterwijk was quoted in the Financieele Dagblad as saying.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, also in Rotterdam, said the Netherlands has to do more to utilise its labour reserves.
Education minister Ronald Plasterk, speaking at Amsterdam University, called on students to gain working experience or change direction before signing up for a master’s degree.
At Amsterdam’s VU (Free University), Agnes Jongerius, head of the FNV trade union federation, said the high salaries demanded by managers are demotivating shop floor staff.
Meanwhile Ad Scheepbouwer, CEO at telecom firm KPN, told his audience at Delft University that students who performed best should be rewarded.
Politicians, industry leaders and other prominent personalities are traditionally asked to address university students at the start of the academic year.

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