New PNN chair

During the General Members Meeting of 25 September 2020, Rosanne Anholt was elected as the new chair of PNN. Anholt focus in her trajectory on the subject of resilience in the context of international security and succeeds Lucille Mattijssen, who will leave PNN board after one year of chairmanship.

Anholt looks forward to improving the position of PhD candidates in the coming year, together with the PNN board members and the PhD representatives of the universities. Anholt: “Scientists have been drawing attention for a number of years to the high workload, the large proportion of temporary contracts, and the structural underfunding of education. The fundamental problems in science particularly affect the most vulnerable groups, such as PhD candidates. The PNN unites PhD candidates and is committed to making their voices heard towards policymakers and politicians. The results of the PNN Survey, which was conducted among 1600 PhD candidates, provide important starting points for this.

Various topics will require attention in the coming period. For example, PNN will closely monitor the consequences of the corona crisis for PhD candidates and will encourage universities to compensate PhD candidates for the delay. Anholt: “For example, by means of extensions or by adjusting, in consultation with the PhD candidate, the requirements that a dissertation must meet. Moreover, we can see from the results of the PNN Survey that almost half of the PhD candidates are at risk of developing mental complaints. Support from the universities is important right now”. PNN also continues to closely follow the developments surrounding the PhD scholarship experiment in Groningen. Anholt: “Proponents of the experiment point to the tension between the number of people who would like to do a PhD and the ever decreasing number of PhD positions, partly due to the disappearance of the first flow of funds. The PNN is of the opinion that taking away employee status, and the associated rights, is no solution to this. The Netherlands has always been known in Europe as a worthy example. She will lose that exemplary function if the scholarship system is implemented”. The inequalities between different types of PhD candidates, the quality of PhD trajectories and guidance, diversity and opportunities on the labor market remain important focus points for PNN.

The PNN has recruited no less than five new board members for the coming term of office. Meaghan Polack (LUMC) will take on the role of secretary and internal vice-president. Angela Tol (UMCG) will dedicate herself to international PhD candidates. She will also act as treasurer for the PNN. René de Vries (UMCG) will focus on the quality of PhD trajectories. Marc Vervuurt (Radboud UMC) will work for better working conditions for PhD candidates and Manon te Dorsthorst (Radboud UMC) focus on PhD candidates employeed at the UMC’s. Finally, Keshen Mathura (Amsterdam UMC) will promote the interests of external PhD candidates. Peta Baxter (Donders Institute Nijmegen) and Tess van Doorn (Erasmus MC) had already taken up positions as board member Career and board member Open Science respectively. Anholt: “With nine members, the board of the PNN looks forward to working extra hard for the rights of PhD candidates in these difficult times”.