(Rotterdam) – Today’s council meeting has been the most visited meeting in at least the last 4 to 5 years. About 20 students showed up to witness the discussion about the future of Economics & ICT. Most of the public left the meeting unsatisfied because the Erasmus School of Economics board refused to catch the questions and answer them, instead it was a high-level dodgeball game.
Critical questions were:
- How come the three year old promise (to add ICT-courses to the economics curriculum) remains unfulfilled? After all, this has been the sole reason to terminate the Bachelor Economics & Informatics (E&I).
- Did the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) really try its best to find new teachers? And can the board provide evidence?
- Study advisors propagate both ‘Computational Economics’ and ‘Economics & ICT’ will be terminated, how can this be? Only Economics & ICT is at stake here.
- E&I-students have difficulties finding a thesis supervisor; how will this problem be solved?
Although the questions were dodged, these are the ‘answers’ provided by the board:
The ESE-board admits their three year old plan, to ‘reposition’ ICT-courses, has failed. According to dean Franses and vice-dean Arnold, the reason is simple: “We do not have the disposal of qualified teachers at the moment”. Once again, both individuals stated they find it undesirable to hire external teachers.
Result: The Council unanimously condemned this broken promise. Also, the Council noted that other areas and domains like Accounting and Fiscal Economics, perform even worse than E&I does. The ESE-board refuses to comment on the latter and no tangible actions are proposed.
Once again dean Franses claimed the ESE is “continuously working to hire new people, but in this case we have to conclude no qualified individuals are out there”. The Council finds this thought of reasoning doubtful as no available job positions exist and not a single vacancy is published. It is noted that job positions and vacancies do exist for other domains. Dean Franses remained persistent: “I am convinced no qualified individuals are out there”.
Result: The Council remains skeptic because you cannot expect a qualified individual to apply for a job vacancy that does not exist. Council members said to be highly disappointed no action was taken in a much earlier stadium, and that the Council has been informed when it already was all just too little too late. The ESE-board briefly reacted, but did not propose any tangible actions.
Vice-dean Arnold stated he finds it “bizarre” that study advisors inform prospective students that Computational Economics, as well as Economics & ICT will be terminated. He wishes to discuss this issue with the advisors, before giving an official statement. He further refused multiple times to provide a transparent insight in how the study advisors have been informed, making it impossible to find where things went wrong.
Result: It can be concluded Arnold refuses to make internal communication transparent. Council members find this very doubtful and cannot comprehend why the requested information is being withhold until the next meeting on June 1, 2011. No tangible actions are proposed.
The ESE-board acknowledges students encounter difficulties in finding a supervisor. Vice-dean Arnold adds “4 external teachers have been hired who can supervise”, but council member noted he is familiar with at least one case in which the external teacher is not allowed to supervise a thesis. Arnold immediately stated he will look into the matter. In another case the examination committee, now that his supervisor left the ESE, ordered a student to complete his thesis all by himself. Although Arnold refused to comment, a year ago he stated that such students should request a supervisor from the examination committee.
Result: It remains unclear what individuals are allowed to act as supervisors, but the problem is urgent and will have to be solved yesterday. No tangible solutions are provided by the ESE-board.
After council member addressed the third (3) issue, vice-dean Arnold commented he is not willing to “investigate every detail and rumor”. fiercely reacted by stating a witness is standing by to testify. Council member Neffke joined by adding he is finding it odd the vice-dean is classifying the statement of a council member as just a rumor: “when I, as a council member, give a statement on an issue I expect to be taken seriously – in this case mr. is simply stating what he was told by a study advisor”. At this point Arnold gave up offering any resistance and promised to look into the matter.
Dean Franses despises students
On another occasion dean Franses said “he is convinced E&I-students will not come up with an idea that is comparable to Facebook” and added that “statistically, having an academic education is not the way to become successful, those odds being much better for individuals without any education at all”. Council member and professor Dekker reacted that “E&I-students, or any other student in that matter, should not be underestimated that easily” and was clearly unhappy with the dean openly despising students.
For the record, according to a statistical report of the Dutch Bureau for Statistics the dean Franses was wrong: the CBS (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek) issued a press statement concluding “the higher ones education, the higher the income”.
Overall, the ESE-board accomplished to increase the level of doubt in its policy. Especially the spectators are saying to have lost trust in the Erasmus School of Economics, and the board, as a result of a highly doubtful policy, the absence of transparency and many unanswered questions.