In 2022, the year of the tenth anniversary of Leiden-Delft-Erasmus, the collaboration was assessed. This was done by an independent, external committee under the leadership of former Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) chairman prof. Stan Gielen, on the instruction of the Executive Boards of the three universities. The opinion on the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus centres and programmes was positive.
The committee was impressed by the positive energy, commitment and enthusiasm of the staff at the centres. “That positive energy reflects the unique and important role the centres play in bringing about innovative inter- and multidisciplinary research and education collaboration", says the committee.
Other members of the assessment committee included:
> prof. Jaap Schouten, former professor of Chemical Reactor Engineering at the Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e) and from 2017 to March 2020 member of the Board of Directors of NWO, and chairman of Applied and Technical Sciences,
> prof. Claes de Vreese, University Professor of AI & Society at the University of Amsterdam and from 2017 to 2020 chairman of the Board of Social Sciences of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and of the SSH Council, and
> prof. Gerry Wakker, professor of Ancient Greek Language and Literature, scientific director of the national research school OIKOS and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the University of Groningen (RUG).
The committee based its opinion on independent studies of the centres and programmes and interviews with scientists and stakeholders. According to the committee, the centres are best characterised as catalysts and incubators. "They have a flywheel effect" writes the committee in its report: “innovation is brought about with relatively limited financial resources. By giving mid-career researchers with a permanent position the space to carry out innovative research based on team science, the centres’ inter-university research seems to be able to fit in well with the faculties".
The committee also praised the education provided by the centres. The thesis projects and other teaching methods which involve students from different disciplines working together on practice-based issues of external stakeholders were considered particularly impressive. This type of education is highly valued by students and regarded as extremely valuable and innovative by stakeholders.
One-stop shop for external stakeholders
LDE centres also function as a ‘one-stop shop’ for the outside world. In a world where the wide variety of faculties, departments and consortia usually makes it difficult for external stakeholders to know where they should go with their practice-based issues, the LDE centres play an important role.
Organizational sticking points
The assessment committee was also critical. For instance, there are still a lot of organisational sticking points connected with the collaboration between three universities. “Collaboration in education in particular calls for a lot of creativity, inventiveness and ability on the part of support personnel”, reported the committee which was otherwise also delighted to hear that concrete action was being taken at EB level in order to address sticking points in the education collaboration.
Development of a new strategy
LDE dean Wim van den Doel is delighted with the report by the Gielen committee. “We had a relatively ‘heavyweight’ committee assess our centres and the result is an interesting and high-quality assessment report that we can work with”. In addition, the LDE board has since discussed the report and congratulated the centres on the results achieved. The report will also play an important role in the development of a new LDE strategy for the period after 2024.
Below you will find the appendix with the full report.