Citizens to choose university research topics

Dutch citizens will help to decide which topics universities will research. This was announced by Minister Jet Bussemaaker (PvdA) and State Secretary Sander Dekker (VVD) of Education, Culture and Science. 

In their Science Vision 2025 the minister and state secretary said that "a limited number of social issues" will be selected in the course of next year. The results of the discussion about the research topics will be in next years National Research Agenda.

The new approach represents a significant change in the top sector policy, which was initiated by the Rutte I Cabinet. The business community, within nine industrial sectors, had a strong influence of the direction of the research. Now the community also gets a voice.

The research agenda is drawn up by universities, colleges and businesses, in consultation with civil society organization, involved citizens and state institutions such as the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). With this more support for research must be created in the community.

The coordination for the process lies with the NWO, the organization that annually distributes 650 million euro in research funding. The universities will also get an extra 50 million euro, which should be used to bring in more research projects from Brussels.

According to Bussemaker and Dekker, the research agenda is also required to meet the growing international struggle to maintain knowledge. There is increasing competition among businesses for scientific talent and research laboratories. Additionally, citizens are becoming more involved in the production of new knowledge.