I currently have a working contract of 4 years with my university in the Netherlands as an employed PhD candidate (werknemer-promovendus). The funding for this PhD, as I was told by my promotor (term for PhD advisor in the Netherlands), comes mainly from an industrial partner (IP) with a supplement from the Dutch Ministry of Education.

Given this funding, the PhD involves close collaboration with this said IP. There have been multiple cases of violation of the scientific integrity code of my university involving this IP with former/current colleagues of my lab: Coming up with formulas that are incorrect and publishing them in conferences, even though they have been demonstrated to be incorrect. Cases of publications involving obvious plagiarism. And an overall lack of seriousness and scientific rigor that you would expect in academia. I haven't yielded yet, and I will not. I have been showing more and more resistance to their way of working. My promotor isn't willing to go against the IP since this allows funding for PhD positions/Postdocs, and isn't very happy with the resistance I am showing. I should also perhaps mention that the thesis, as well as my other PhD colleagues' theses, which my promotor is supervising, is a bit far away from their field, so they may also have a hard time understanding why a given formula is incorrect, or how a given publication may constitute plagiarism when contrasted with another one. It's not their domain of expertise.

In case the IP decides to retract its partnership (and hence funding) with the university, can I be dismissed? If I keep maintaining my current standing, can my promotor fire me? For those of you familiar with Dutch academia, are there any resources I could consult on this matter?

  • 1
    This seems like a local question for someone at your university. Perhaps there is an office that manages such grants from partners. Perhaps someone in administration has knowledge of the funding possibilities. It may not be a national standard.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jan 28 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


I got an answer from an education union that specializes in these legal matters.

Q1: The answer is no, unless there is a specific provision in the signed contract with the university that stipulates that there will be a dismissal in case the funding is retracted from the industrial partner. In case there is no such provision, which is usually the case for werknemer-promovendus contracts, the university has the obligation to continue funding you as an employee given the signed contract even if the partner rectracts their funding.

Q2: The employer has the obligation to uphold the signed contract for its duration after a probation period. The university (and not the promotor) thus cannot simply dismiss the PhD candidate after the probation period (usually 9 months) has elapsed.

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