Dutch universities are using more flexible contract staff

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An increasing number of university academic staff are being employed on flexible contracts, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.

Over the past 17 years, the number of staff on flexible contracts has doubled, rising to 40% in 2012.

If PhD students, most of whom are on temporary contracts, are included, the number of academics on flexible contracts rises to 60%.

According to the academic staff union Vawo, the rise poses a risk to scientific research, the Volkskrant says.


The main reason for the rise in flexible contracts is the decreasing amount of money available from government funds.

Universities must increasingly find financing for their projects from organisations and the business sector. With each project running for a few years, academics are more likely to be offered a short-term, flexible contract, the Vawo says.

‘Good research and good teaching need continuity,’ the Vawo’s Marijtje Jongsma told the paper. ‘That continuity is lost when no one stays more than a couple of years.’


However, the Dutch university association VSNU says the current system is based on the selection of talent.

‘Research is more competitive than previously,’ spokesman Bastiaan Verweij told the Volkskrant. ‘Academics compete for the available money, which is challenging. But is does mean there is uncertainty over jobs or whether a research group will stay together.’



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