Rather the Poisoned Chalice: On Universities and the Market
André Klukhuhn (Amsterdam, August 17th 1940) is physical chemist, philosopher and author. After conferring his Ph.D. on an infrared spectrophotometric investigation on semiconductors he left the University of Amsterdam and went to the Studium Generale of the Utrecht University. In 1993 he tried in vain to get rid of his Ph.D., as a protest against the commercialization of science. Besides his scientific occupations he worked for the radio (VPRO, NPS, Amsterdam FM), wrote columns and essays (HP/De Tijd, U-blad) and was member of the editorial staff of the literary magazine Maatstaf. In January 2008 appeared his last book, Alle mensen heten Janus; het verbond tussen filosofie, wetenschap kunst en godsdienst (Everybody’s Name is Januarius; The Alliance between Philosophy, Science, Art and Religion), a philosophical essay of almost 900 pages, about the history of the Western culture and civilization.
Dutch universities have been on a rollercoaster ride for at least half a century now, making it difficult to get a clear picture of the situation. The main cause of the current commotion has been the expansion of the universities, with the vast increase in student numbers caused by the democratization of admissions policies in the late 1960s. Secondly, there is the trend towards social engagement, at first determined by the opening of the universities ivory towers to society in the broadest sense, and later by channeling this into the more limited direction of the corporate world and other markets based on supply and demand. A third development involves the lowering of scientific education and research standards. Retrenchments usually mean a reduction in the length of courses and in the introduction of mass education.