Amalia, Princess of Orange, has been admitted to an ‘interdisciplinary’ study called PPLE at the University of Amsterdam. This study is known for its inaccessible nature. There is a demanding selection procedure and a special access pass for areas within the faculty where only PPLE students are allowed.
Now the UvA is known for often falling short when it comes to study space for students. But not for PPLE: those students are always provided with a safe place. That actually fits the lifestyle of our crown princess, I thought when I heard this week which study she had chosen.
PPLE: Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics† The name says it all. It is an English-language study that brings together four socially connected topics. Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics. In the second year of this bachelor’s degree, you can specialize in one of these four disciplines. Then we know where Amalia really feels at home.
But that is not everything. Besides being a broad study for motivated students, it is also a study that mainly attracts international students. No fewer than 64 percent of PPLE students are not Dutch students. Studies such as these contribute strongly to the further internationalization of our universities. Another fact is that there is an over-representation of women: about 72 percent women compared to 28 percent men.
A left-wing university
Over the years I learned that the city and the university where you study shapes you. Every university has its own character. Especially if you are an involved student you get a lot from that character.
Students at the UvA generally do not shy away from activism and thus contribute to maintaining the left-wing character that the University of Amsterdam carries with it. The Catholics had the University of Nijmegen, the Reformed their Free University and the originally Municipal University of Amsterdam was informally the university of the left (initially mainly of the PvdA, since the 1960s everything that embraces the left). With more than 41,000 registered students, the UvA is the largest university in the country.
Who is Amalia?
The fact that Amalia is breaking the long-standing Orange tradition with ‘Leiden’ contributes to the question: who is Amalia? The crown princess is a motivated student if we are to believe Claudia de Breij’s analysis in her book about eighteen-year-old Amalia. She is a perfectionist, driven and behaves like a real high school student.
Amalia is portrayed by Claudia de Breij as someone who is aware of her privileges, but who can put herself in the most dire circumstances of the ordinary citizen. Amalia would be well aware of what her future role entails. She certainly does not run away from that: she wanted to be a princess from an early age.
But why not history, for example, as a study for Amalia, I wondered? Why a trendy study that contributes to the internationalization and Anglicization of the UvA? I mean: for someone who has said she is willing to give her life for the Netherlands. On the other hand, the Netherlands does not represent that much in a globalized world. And that is also the world for which our future queen has to prepare.
Imagine if Amalia does indeed become an engaged student, as she apparently was an engaged student: she would have been on the student council of her high school. Imagine her entering the university council of the UvA, whether or not democratically elected with the help of the few pro-royal UvA members.
In the university council, Amalia can then deal with the problems the university is struggling with, such as internationalisation, Anglicization and ‘diversity’. This ‘internationalisation’ has been pursued by Dutch universities for years – secretly for financial reasons – but is now gradually seen as problematic by the same universities.
This internationalization, secretly also driven by the need for ‘diversity’, would cause an enormous workload and thus harm the quality of education. Think of overcrowded workgroups. The UvA is very busy with diversity, but in practice at the UvA it is mainly diversity for the elite. Diversity for expats, so to speak.
Well, from someone who is willing to give her life for us, you can at least expect that when the war breaks out she will not go into exile to England, but will fight to the bitter end!
Sujet Shams studied at the University of Amsterdam.