September 17, 2018

Students choosing Dutch studies steadily declining

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 2:12 pm


The VU Amsterdam University only has six students studying Dutch this study year, just one more than last year, which has academics worried. The Bachelor’s study Literature and Society is under a lot of pressure to peddle their wares, but people aren’t buying.

According to Professor Johan Koppenol, Professor of Old Dutch Literature, Dutch is one of the least popular subjects already at secondary school – here I thought it was French and/or German as a second language. As well, Koppenol claims that many secondary students believe that studying Dutch at higher levels is only good if you want to become a teacher, so there’s an image problem as well.

The Literature and Society Bachelor’s degree has in fact never attracted more than 10 students, explains Diederik Oostdijk, head of Language, Literature and Communication, as well as Professor of English at the VU. Two years ago the Bachelor was broadened in the hopes of attracting more students, but that’s not been successful. However, the English-language side of things gets some 50 students a year, most of which come from abroad.

Back in my days at university in Montreal, Canada in the 1990s, language studies from English to French (typically popular) to German and Russian (that is what I did, the least populated of them all), there was an academic appreciation for studying language and literature, but it was considered a fairly useless study unless combined with some more solid. I remember the Russian faculty head who also taught English literature told me that 80% of his English Studies students couldn’t find a proper job or ended up on welfare after their studies, with a few thousand dollars in debt as well. And I can tell you that the prospects for us Russian and Slavic Studies students was also shaky unless combined with something more solid. The idea of working as a transcriber of Russian mafia women’s phone conversations, which was more about recipes and less about possible coups, didn’t sell very well, either.


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December 21, 2015

Julius Caesar massacred two tribes on Dutch soil

Filed under: Dutch first,History by Orangemaster @ 11:30 am


Based on a combination of historical, archaeological and geochemical data, the Allard Pierson Museum of the VU University Amsterdam has announced that they have uncovered evidence that Julius Caesar actually fought a battle on Dutch soil. Confirmed by skeletal remains, swords and spearheads that were found in Kessel, Noord-Brabant, Caesar and his men wiped out two entire local tribes, which was normal back then and wrote about it in Book IV of his De Bello Gallico. According to archaeologists, Caesar fought the battle in 55 A.D.

Around 47 A.D, the border of the Roman Empire ran through the Netherlands where Germanic and Celtic tribes lived. Several Dutch villages and cities along the Rhine descend from the Roman time, revealed by regular archeological excavations. The most important Roman settlement was Noviomagus, or as it is know today, Nijmegen. The Valkhof shown here is one of the many Roman ruins still standing there.

(Links:,, Photo of the Moon over the Valkhof by Eelco, some rights reserved)

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September 23, 2013

More large-scale scientific fraud uncovered at Dutch university

Filed under: Science by Orangemaster @ 8:32 am

Diederik Stapel, the country’s most notorious scientific fraudster, has some competition. Stapel had some 36 cases of confirmed fraud when we wrote about him in 2012, up to 55 at some point.

And now a former professor of the VU University Amsterdam, Mart Bax, has apparently published at least 61 documents of fake research in 15 years. He was quite crafty and managed to recycle his work under fake names, lie about awards and surely more things that will be excavated soon.

The biggest difference so far is that Stapel was still working as a professor when he got caught and Bax has been away from his university for some 11 years.

Here’s a how to fake it when you’re a fraudster scientist.


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September 17, 2013

Dutchman breaks world cycling record at 133,78 km/h

Filed under: Bicycles,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 1:36 pm

Dutchman Sebastiaan Bowier has broken the previous 2009 record of Canadian cyclist Sam Wittigham by just 0.6 km/h by reaching a speed of 133,78 km/h, making him the fastest cyclist in the world. Students from the Delft University of Technology and the VU University Amsterdam joined forces to beat this record in a high-tech recumbent whizzing through the Nevada desert in the United States. The speeds were measured over a distance of 200 metres, after accelerating on an eight kilometre straight road. It’s the special coating of the recumbent that gave it 90% less wind resistance than a normal bicycle.

Wil Baselmans, the second cyclist of the Delft/Amsterdam team also reached a world class speed of 127,43 km/h, making him the third fastest man on earth, right after Bowier and Wittingham.


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