TILBURG – An investigation must be conducted into the situation of external PhD students at universities. This says SP Member of Parliament Frank Futselaar in the broadcast of the VPRO / Human radio program Argos in response to a study that will be presented on Saturday 1 September at NPO Radio 1 about the university in Tilburg. Futselaar will ask the Minister of Education for an investigation.
Futselaar has been shocked by the large numbers of external PhD students who have received their degree in Tilburg in recent years from a small number of professors. An external PhD student is not affiliated with the university, but may use the facilities. John Rijsman, professor of social psychology in Tilburg, has supervised 156 promotions. In the six years between 2010 and 2016, he delivered 77 PhD students. Almost all of these promotions took place in collaboration with the TAOS institute in the US. Of the 92 PhD students on the site of the American institute, 70 were promoted in Tilburg.
Last year, research by Argos showed that Arie de Ruijter helped 47 PhD students in their years in the years that he was dean at Tilburg University. Because of this high number, De Ruijter was allowed to use 30,000 euros per promotion to support his guidance. He spent that money, totaling more than a million, with two family members, including a beauty salon.
De Ruijter and two family members were arrested a month after the Argos broadcast. The Public Prosecutor will soon decide whether to proceed with prosecution. "The file has been completed. The wait is for a decision 'according to a spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service.
In Argos it is also reported that Ruben Gowricharn, unpaid professor in Tilburg from 2007 to 2017, has supervised nine PhD students for which he received 35,000 euros per doctorate. Gowricharn has a foundation, De Promotiekamer, in which he guides students in their promotion. For this he asks the PhD students an amount of 6,200 euros in the first year and in the following years 4,700 per year. That is on the site of The Promotion Room. In the years 2013 to 2017, Gowricharn received over 220,000 euros from PhD students, according to the annual accounts of De Promotiekamer. A small part of them actually obtained their degree.
At the end of July, Tilburg University was ordered to pay 75,000 euros to Prof. Van den Herik for supervising three PhD candidates after his retirement. The university felt that this was not a good appointment afterwards, but the court obliged the university to comply with that agreement.
John Rijsman also received the offer in 2014 to be paid per successful promotion. He was offered 12,500 euros, says Rijsman in Argos.
The university receives a promotional grant from the Ministry of 70,000 to 96,000 euros per successfully completed PhD. The amount differs per year. The contributions for promotions are important for the financing of the universities. They account for about 20 percent of the university's income.
'If you release someone and you collect this kind of record numbers of PhD students, you at least pay the impression that you have built a PhD factory because you earn income from it. I think that's bad, "says Futselaar in Argos.
In response to questions from Argos, Tilburg University states that it considers the agreements with Gowricharn to be 'undesirable' afterwards.
Gowricharn did not want to answer Argos's questions because he did not want to cooperate with this 'tendentious investigation'.
Publication: Saturday, September 1, 2018 – 12:11
Changed: Saturday, September 1, 2018 – 12:19
Author: Cor Bouma
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