The Maagdenhuis occupation, the crisis of 'soft coupling' and the new university

Paul Stephen Benneworth

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The recent demonstrations by humanities students in Amsterdam, and the occupation of firstly the Bungehuis and then the Maagdenhuis, appear to have struck a chord across European universities in terms of the interest in and solidarity for these protests from across academia. The protests have become a nucleus for a growing dissatisfaction amongst key university communities for the ways that they are being managed. University management has in this case appeared rather inept and reactive in their responses, firstly unable to accept they could not simply compel the protestors to disperse and then later having difficulties in engaging with the key demands as being significant. This short piece argues the Maagdenhuis protests are an interesting living laboratory to explore a wider set of tensions in university governance to best meet society’s needs (not just society’s loudest voices). I raise three key questions which the ‘new university’ must answer, how far the new institutional arrangements are able to provide semi-insularity, collegiality and solidarity, and thereby create the optimum conditions for scholarly communities, employees and students to best develop knowledge within a learning community and thus contribute to societal development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • METIS-311829
  • IR-97264


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