They're demanding articles to be corrected

UCR takes higher education platform Scienceguide to court

Photo: DUB

In September, Scienceguide published an article in response to a research report by the Government Audit Service (Dutch acronym: ADR) that the Ministry of Education had commissioned. The investigation was set up to find out who is financially responsible for University College Roosevelt (UCR). Suppose UCR could not keep its head above water, who would be financially responsible for it? UCR’s educational accreditation is done through Utrecht University and its main donors are the Ministry of Education and the province of Zeeland.

The report concludes that this responsibility is not properly regulated, adding that the number of UCR students declined during Covid, leading the university college to struggle to stay afloat. In the report, ADR mentions several times that bankruptcy is possible for UCR. Scienceguide's headline states, however, that UCR's bankruptcy was imminent. Additionally, Scienceguide says that, according to the Education Inspectorate, Utrecht University is ultimately responsible for UCR's finances, which UU denies.

After Scienceguide's article was published online, UCR indicated that the story was incorrect. Although the number of students did drop during the pandemic, the university college was never in danger. Moreover, its student numbers are rising again. UCR accuses Scienceguide of not having conducted a proper rebuttal, noting that the suggestion of imminent bankruptcy can be harmful to the institution, discouraging students from applying to UCR. 

Scienceguide and UCR have been in touch a lot these past few months. “Our editors never aim to harm institutions, so we have decided to take the article in question down,” says Scienceguide Editor in Chief Frans van Heest. But Van Heest is not convinced that UCR is right. Although the article now includes a rectification, the editors have serious doubts about its veracity. A request has been submitted for further information on which ADR would base that UCR is not doing well financially. “It is not a coincidence that the word bankruptcy appears five times in this report,” says Van Heest.

Wrong track
According to UCR, Scienceguide is completely on the wrong track and its editors have not fulfilled previous agreements about rectification. The Zeeland-based institution demands the publication correct the article in question and erase all subsequent articles about the topic. In addition, UCR wants Scienguide to delete all references to the topic on social media and ask search engines such as Google and Bing to replace search terms.