Dutch collaborations with foreign universities potential national security risk: advice
Collaboration between Dutch knowledge institutions and universities abroad can threaten national security, said the Advisory Council for Science, Technology, and Innovation (AWTI) in a new report. Universities and universities of applied sciences must work on raising awareness about the risks associated with international collaborations.
“Recent geopolitical, technological, and social developments in the world have raised concerns about international collaborations,” said the advisory board. “A series of incidents” has shown that such cooperation can pose a threat to national security. “For example, when information about critical infrastructure and military technology is stolen.”
The council referred to a report from the General and Intelligence Security Service (AIVD) at the end of 2020 after two Russian diplomats were expelled from the Netherlands for being involved in espionage in the Dutch high-tech sector and science.
The Netherlands needs to do more scientific research into “knowledge security,” the advisory council said. Knowledge security includes “undesirable knowledge transfer, covert influence, and ethical issues surrounding international collaborations at knowledge institutions, such as universities and universities of applied sciences.” Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences regularly collaborate with foreign universities. That yields a lot, the council said - knowledge is shared, and students and lecturers can travel the world more easily. But there are also risks involved.
The council expressly advocates “nuance in the approach.” According to AWTI councilor Chokri Mousaoui, international cooperation must absolutely be preserved. It is about “finding a balance between naivety and going too far in safety.”
The report was presented to Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf of Education, Culture, and Science on Thursday.
Reporting by ANP