Former ambassador in favour of Dutch universities merger

One of the most influential leaders of Delft University of Technology, Dirk-Jan van den Berg – former Netherlands ambassador to China – has come out strongly in favour of a controversial proposal to merge Delft, Rotterdam and Leiden universities into a single academic force.

“The specialities of the three universities already complement each other – and by co-operating, we could attract increased research funding, better scientists and more students”, said Dr van den Berg, who was reappointed president of Delft University executive board in February.

MM-Dirk-Jan-van-den-Berg“At the moment we are doing well in the rankings, and, of course, we want to keep it that way. In order to do so most effectively, we need to co-operate”, he added. “We could, for example, set up research co-operation between biology at Leiden, nanobiology at Delft, and medicine at Rotterdam – making each department even better than it already is.”

Although talks between the three universities have been going on since 2009, more than half of academics and students across the three locations oppose the proposal, according to a survey by Erasmus,Rotterdam university’s magazine.

The survey showed that 61 per cent of academics – almost two-thirds – were opposed to a merger, mainly because they believed that the resulting mega-university would be too big (with around 55,000 students), too bureaucratic, and that redundnacies among the academic staff would inevitably follow.

Peter Cluskey is Managing Editor at Brown & Green Editorial Consultants