Unrest at the Faculty of Management: unions send urgent letter after discrimination and intimidation

04 Mar 2024 ,

Something needs to happen at the Faculty of Management, according to the unions and the faculty’s participational bodies. Today, they handed over an urgent letter to the faculty board. Employees of the faculty are are said to be intimidated and discriminated.

It’s five minutes to midnight for the Faculty of Management according to the unions AOb and FNV. Employees are said to be intimidated and discriminated. PhD students were allegedly told not to get pregnant, or to not take up any parental leave.

It was also said that there were threats of delayed -or even cancelled- promotions, and career opportunities were hampered by the ongoing financial situation; informal agreements were disregarded. Employees with temporary contracts, mainly PhD students and postdocs, fear for their future with the faculty.

Additionally, the workload is said to have risen significantly, jeopardising the quality of education, among other things.

Urgent letter

This is all written in an urgent letter from the unions and the faculty participation councils, seen by Vox. It was handed over to the Faculty Board (FB) this afternoon. It is also coincidentally Saskia Lavrijssen’s first day in her new role as dean of the Nijmegen School of Management.

The situation at the Management Faculty has been troubled for months. At the beginning of the academic year there was suddenly a financial deficit of 9 million euros. Several crisis measures were implemented in response: there was a hiring freeze, student assistants were fired, and some courses were dropped.

At the same time, there was a conflict of trust between the faculty board and participational bodies. The Faculty’s Representative Council (FOC) has an issue with two dossiers: the HR-policy and the new management policy. The conflict came to a boiling point about a month ago, when the FOC withdrew its trust in the faculty board, which back then was under the control of interim dean Michiel Kompier. In an internal email sent somewhere last week, the faculty board said they wish to talk to the participational bodies in the presence of a mediator about rebuilding mutual trust.

Lack of long-term vision

According to the letter, which contains a detailed list of examples of misconduct, the faculty was in a state of panic, with improvisation and desperate attempts to manage the situation. There was said to be a lack of long-term vision; there was also a culture of mistrust between employees.

The unions call on the FB to reflect and lead an effective reorganisation, with structural changes to functions and tasks.  Furthermore, they advise to ask professional help in making a plan of action to tackle the chaos within the board and the financial crisis.

‘The faculty board does not listen to its own experts, but instead only acts from its ivory tower’

Arnoud Lagendijk, a professor Economic geography and head of the AOb, is one of the co-authors of the letter. In addition to the suggestions, he calls for a thorough investigation into both the management as well as the financial situation within the Faculty.

‘How could this have happened? In the past we got the assignment to hire more research personnel to grow to a 50-50 division between education and research. Within the Faculty, we always wondered where they managed to find the money. But every time, we were told that there was more than enough. And now we have to deal with the issues: all kinds of career perspectives have been put off and means have been cut off. The massive amount of lay-offs among student assistants hurts especially, for both education as well as supporting services.’

There will probably not be a solution for quite a while. Lagendijk: ‘It’s terribly annoying. We’re the faculty that knows everything about management, accountability, and strategy, and how to use that to write proper policies. But this is the place where it goes wrong. The faculty board does not listen to its own experts, but instead only acts from its ivory tower.’


A spokesperson for the Radboud University states that every shape and form of discrimination and intimidation is unacceptable. ‘Radboud University wants to be a safe space for all its students and employees. If it is indeed the case that comments were made saying it would be better for people not to get pregnant, then that’s inappropriate, unwanted, and unacceptable.’

In a report on its own website the Radboud University shares that pregnancy should not play a role in the hiring of employees, nor during their employment. Since November 2022, this even has been legally regulated for employees with a one-time long-term contract.

‘We understand that the financial situation as follows from “the perfect storm” can cause quite some uncertainty for employees,’ the spokesperson continues. ‘The faculty is doing everything it can to prevent reorganization and forced firing. For now, that is still working, and measurements were taken to lower the budget gap to six million. But at the same time a reorganization cannot be ruled out.’

‘If comments were made saying it would be better for people not to get pregnant then that’s unwanted and inappropriate.’

Lagendijk shares that the executive board (cvb) should also take action. ‘They should step up and make sure that the faculty board has enough support with money, expertise and HR-capacity.’

However, the Executive Board has yet to intervene, nor have they launched an (external) investigation, the spokesperson said when asked. ‘The cvb is collaborating with the faculty board, the employees and the participational bodies to work on the issues and to develop a solid long-term strategy. We will work together in mutual trust.’

Translated by Lara Nijhoff

Great that you are reading Vox! Do you want to stay up to date on all university news?

Thanks for adding the vox-app!

Leave a comment

Vox Magazine

Independent magazine of Radboud University

read the latest Vox online!

Vox Update

A direct, daily or weekly update with our articles in your mailbox!