The WPC highly regrets that many PhD candidates (approximately 930 out of 1930) were not able to vote in the PhD elections. As Jeroen Candel pointed out in Resource (29 June, 2016), all PhD candidates should be able to vote and be elected. This was negotiated by the WPC back in 2014 and this is what the WPC still stands for today. Therefore, the WPC held a meeting with the election committee.
In that meeting, the election committee explained that only PhD candidates who were registered in the University’s HR-system received an invitation to vote. The main reason for this is that the current regulations are ambiguous about which PhD candidates are allowed to vote. As a result, the majority of Research Assistants could cast their vote, whereas only one third of the Sandwich, Guest, External and Staff PhD candidates was able to cast their vote.
Therefore, the WPC discussed whether re-elections should be organized or not. According to the election committee re-elections cannot be held earlier than December, which means that newly elected candidates could join the WUR Council for only half a year. Therefore, the WPC thinks that the current election outcome rather than re-elections will result in the best representation of PhD interests in the WUR Council. The two newly elected candidates are very eager to change the election regulations in an unambiguous way, so that all PhD candidates, no matter which type of contract they have, can vote and be elected in next year’s elections. This will be done in close collaboration with the WPC.
The underrepresentation of all PhD candidates is a very serious issue which justifies to take a fundamental stand on this topic. Therefore, the WPC also wants to address the general position of Sandwich, Guest and External PhD candidates within Wageningen UR. These PhD candidates make up half of the total number of PhD candidates at Wageningen UR and represent mainly international candidates. The WPC has identified some of their needs, for instance a health insurance more adequate to their current position, and will collect more information about their situation to represent them better. The WPC is confident that the elected PhD representatives in the WUR Council, together with the WPC, will represent all PhD candidates in the best way they can.