Information regarding sector plans
I am writing with reference to the publication of the Higher Education policy letter from the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) on Friday 17 June 2022, and the opportunities and challenges with which it presents us. The policy letter describes how additional investments can be made in higher education and research. The ‘sector plans’ are one element of this. It is expected that a total of € 200 million per year will be made available for all the university disciplines that submitted a sector plan, including a probable € 70 million for the SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities) domain. This means that a significant amount of funding will be available for our own Faculty, making it possible, for example, to appoint more lecturers (assistant professors/UDs) in the years ahead. This is clearly very good news.
The Ministry has not yet established the formal frameworks for the sector plans. However, in anticipation of this, we are working very hard – in consultation with the Academic Directors of our institutes and other Humanities faculties in the Netherlands – on plans for how this funding could be used and shared out. This is a complicated puzzle, which needs to be solved under great time pressure, in view of the Ministry’s very short timeline.
Sector plan themes
Within the sector plan, the Faculty of Humanities has chosen to strengthen the basis of our research and education in Languages & Cultures by means of collaboration and profiling, and to focus on two interdisciplinary research themes: Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence and Cultural Heritage & Identity, both of which are in line with our Faculty strategy. We also aim to achieve SSH-wide interaction (i.e. cooperation in the domain of Social Sciences and Humanities) within the theme Prosperity, participation and citizenship in a digital world (Welvaart, participatie en burgerschap in een digitale wereld). This funding is of a structural nature.
The Faculty Board’s aim: to strengthen the basis
It is important to emphasise that the Faculty Board intends to use this funding as far as possible to reduce the workload arising from high teaching demands across the entire Faculty. Since the basic principle is that additional capacity must not result in more teaching, and hence that the teaching load must be shared among more staff members, the teaching pressure will be alleviated. This will create more space for other core tasks, such as research, impact and administration tasks; and also, of great importance, a healthy work-life balance. The puzzle is to ensure that the substantive themes of the sector plans are in alignment with the desired broad-scale reduction in workload. We are consulting closely with the institutes about this.
We will naturally keep you informed of further developments in the forthcoming period.
With kind regards,
On behalf of the Faculty Board,
Dean of the Faculty of Humanities