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Jasper's day

Jasper Knoester started on 1 January as our new dean. How is he finding it, what kinds of things is he doing and what does his day look like? In every newsletter Jasper gives us a peek into his life as dean.

‘Sector plans are a push in the right direction for our faculty’

Wednesday 16 March

‘Today I’m working from Groningen and by 8 o’clock in the morning I’m in a Teams meeting with the UNL Sector Plans Committee. UNL (Universities of the Netherlands) is the new name for VSNU, the umbrella organisation of Dutch Universities.

A representative from each of the four science domains (exact sciences, technical sciences,  social sciences and humanities. and medicine) sits in the committee. There are also two rectors, including our own Hester Bijl. The committee meets every week to agree a new series of sector plans.

Sector plans. They don’t sound all that exciting, but this is one of my favourite subjects

Sector plans. They don’t sound all that exciting, but this is one of my favourite subjects. Sector plans can give a really strong impetus to universities. They have been part of the exact sciences for over ten years and have proved highly successful. For each discipline, we agree at national level what the focal areas are in terms of teaching and research.  And we make agreements about such things as student intake, the growth per discipline and the gender division of the staff.

There is a growing interest in making sector plans for the other disciplines. They are included in the coalition agreement and have the support of the Minister, but the final decision still has to be taken. That’s why the dialogue is so important. This morning we talked about collaboration across disciplinary borders, communication and the allocation of the available funds.  

We have had sector plans for Maths, Information Science, Chemistry and Physics since 2019, which have given our faculty an extra budget of 3.7 million euros a year. Next week it will be time for the mid-term report on how we have used these resources so far. That’s an important point in time, and one that I and the Scientific Directors involved are looking forward to with confidence.

Over the past year, many people have worked really hard preparing sector plans for Earth and Environmental Sciences, Astronomy, Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences. As a result, we now have a strong basis for strengthening these disciplines, which is good news for our faculty!

There is also a new dimension to these sector plans. They now include agreements about working with these four exact science disciplines on interdisciplinary themes. We’ll be on tenterhooks in the coming weeks waiting to hear what the politicians’ decide. The national efforts coordinated by the UNL, and the Ministry’s appreciation of sector plans as a valuable  instrument give me cause for optimism.’

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