Some time ago Dutch academics lost their civil servant status. But in its place the language of ‘tenure-track’ and ‘tenure’ has entered Dutch academic life increasingly with American job titles, although the route to a permanent contract with tenure is quite diverse. ‘Academic freedom’ is officially recognized by  article 1.6 of a regular law “Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek.” In principle, academic freedom should protect an academic (among other things) when she conducts unpopular research  or makes statements based on her expertise that may be displeasing to university administrators, the public, and politicians.

In the Netherlands academic freedom is legally seen as an extension of freedom of expression and is also constrained by some of the constitutional limitations on freedom of expression (especially the prohibition on discrimination). But because Dutch academic freedom falls under the freedom of expression, Dutch academic freedom also is highly constrained by all the limitations that Dutch employment law puts on freedom of speech in the workplace. In practice, a ‘tenured’ academic is no different than other Dutch employees with a permanent contract. {UPDATE: SEE BELOW FOR An IMPORTANT QUALIFICATION}

The full significance of this limitation on the attenuated nature of academic freedom has only become apparent this past week when a judge allowed the University of Groningen to fire Dr. Susanne Täuber, who was an associate professor in the department of Human resource Management and Organizational Behavior, because of a [and now I quote the judge’s verdict] “disrupted employment relationship.” (In the Netherlands, it’s not very easy to fire a permanent employee, and for those with a permanent contract a judge generally gets involved unless the employee and employer can agree to terms.) Unfortunately, the reason why the ’employment relationship’ was permanently disrupted exposes the hollowness of Dutch academic freedom. [click to continue…]

Sunday photoblogging: bridge

by Chris Bertram on March 12, 2023

Plimsoll Bridge