Thierry Baudet tijdens zijn overwinningstoespraak. bron: NOS

Baudet: ‘We’re being undermined by our universities’

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Forum for Democracy is the biggest victor of the Provincial Council elections. This makes Thierry Baudet’s party the biggest party in the Senate, along with the VVD. What are Forum for Democracy’s plans for higher education?

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“A decimation is taking place in education,” said Forum leader Baudet in his victory speech on Wednesday. And: “We’re being undermined by our universities”. Minister Van Engelshoven quickly fired back. On Twitter, she called his words ‘highly detrimental’. “We should protect academic freedom, not cast suspicion on it.”

Baudet says society is being undermined by our universities. I think this is highly detrimental. We should stand firmly by science. Society is built on the work and knowledge of scientists and teachers. We should protect academic freedom, not cast suspicion on it.

Baudet’s words don’t come as a surprise. A poster advertising the youth organization affiliated with Forum caused quite a ruckus this past summer: it seemed as though students were being called to violently protest their ‘leftist teachers’.

Leftist indoctrination
During a party meeting in Bergen op Zoom earlier this month, Baudet announced a study would be done on “the influence of the leftist ideology in education. We’re going to map it all.” The study previously done on this subject by the The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences apparently doesn’t suffice.

The NRC report states that pupils and students are exposed to ‘extreme-left’ professors, teachers, and teaching materials, according to Baudet. Forum is said to strive towards a cultural transformation. “All cultural and social institutions in the Netherlands are thoroughly infiltrated by leftist activists,” NRC quotes Baudet. “We should, very slowly, make sure we get our people behind all those desks.”

Baudet sees more threats to higher education. He despises ‘Englification’, and earlier this month voted for a (denied) PVV motion to reinstate Dutch as the education and research language in the Bachelor’s phase of humanities study programmes.

Study financing and selection
Forum wants to reinstate study financing and opposes the higher interest rates on study debt. The party programme also says the funding of higher education needs to be changed. Universities and universities of applied sciences should no longer be judged for the number of diplomas they hand out, but for the number of students that apply to their programmes.

Those numbers are likely to fall, because a “strict selection at the gate” should be established. That selection process should be transparent, says Forum. A (denied) motion from the SP to research the efficiency of different methods of selection was backed by Baudet and his fellow party founder Hiddema, just like an (accepted) motion from D66 that demands Master’s programmes to be able to offer scientific substantiation for their selection criteria.

Central exams
Forum for Democracy doesn’t seem to have much faith in hbo education. To keep up the quality, students of every programme should be assessed in national, central exams.

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