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Everyone Professor!

March 28, 2023

Give Dutch university assistant professors, associate professors, and full professors the same rights as regards supervising PhD programmes .

In Dutch

At Dutch universities, assistant professors [universitair docenten, ud’s] and associate professors [universitair hoofddocenten, uhd’s] largely have the same duties as full professors [hoogleraren] when supervising PhD programmes, but they don’t have the same rights. With its "Everyone Professor!” campaign, The Young Academy advocates separating the rights regarding PhD supervision from the job profile of professor and granting those rights to all ud’s and uhd’s as well.  

For all academics, conferring a doctorate on your own PhD candidate is a special moment. Currently, however, that honour is reserved only for hoogleraren and a small number of uhd’s. And that's not all: various rights regarding doctorate ceremonies are currently linked to the job profile of hoogleraar. The Young Academy thinks this needs to change because in a PhD programme, ud’s and uhd’s have the same duties as a hoogleraar but not the same rights. And that’s even though in many cases they in fact shoulder most of the responsibility and guidance in PhD programmes and are experts in the relevant research field. That's why The Young Academy is today opening "Everyone Professor Year", with the aim of encouraging discussion of "Everyone Professor!" within Dutch universities and thus ensuring that young ud’s and uhd’s can gain greater impact and independence and be less dependent on a hoogleraar

What is “Everyone Professor!” about?

The intention is that from now on every ud, uhd, and hoogleraar will be entitled:

  • to wear a professorial gown (in Dutch a “toga”);
  • to hold the title of “professor”;
  • to serve on dissertation-assessment committees (at their own and other universities);
  • to vote on whether to award the distinction of cum laude;
  • and, if appropriate, to confer the degree of “doctor” on their own PhD candidates.

Social safety

Professorial gowns, the right to confer doctorates, the title of “professor” – even if these are just "cosmetic" differences, they carry over into the day-to-day reality of an academic career and may even affect social safety. In fact, these differences contribute to the extremely hierarchical structure of Dutch academia. Eliminating them can lead to generally younger academics daring to speak out more readily, initiating and supervising independent PhD projects more often, and being listened to at an earlier stage of decision-making and policy-making. 

“Everyone Professor Year”

On 28 March, the new members of The Young Academy were installed; another cohort will be installed next year. The Young Academy hopes that by then practical steps will have been taken within the Dutch universities to launch "Everyone Professor!" We are eager to take the lead in this: now is the time to engage in discussion within Dutch academia and to turn that discussion into genuine action. The Young Academy is inviting the entire academic community to do so.


Questions and comments are most welcome; please e-mail them to dja@knaw.nl.



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