Living in the Netherlands sometimes feels like being in the future: the trains run like clockwork, universities are well-funded, and cash is a thing of the past. Between the Maestro-only payment terminals and OV-chipkaarts, this can feel disorientating for many of us with international backgrounds as well as those less efficiency-minded Dutchies
We occasionally hark back to simpler times, when one could comfortably make their way through the day with banknotes in their pocket and some small-talk with the shopkeeper. The efficiency-mad WUR is having none of that. Once again, in the relentless pursuit for efficiency, the WUR has stripped away what was once a simple requirement for any university campus: a store that sells textbooks.
The WUR’s study store is, like most stores in the Netherlands, part of the Studystore retail chain with branches in universities across the country. Studystore is in turn a subsidiary of The Learning Network, a company that assists in “educational services” in the Netherlands and Belgium. The closure of the WUR store was part of their effort to have purely an online presence.
Sure, after months of online education, we have grown more accustomed to the online lectures and retailers and the convenience it brings. And sure, having a store that becomes jam-packed with anxious students for a week before lying dormant for the rest of the period does not quite align with Dutch efficiency.
Studystore claimed that this decision was driven by a growing portion of students ordering their books online, a phenomenon sped up by the pandemic. Such corporate-like behavior can leave a bitter taste for students of a ‘well-funded’ public institution.
“Let’s cut face-to-face interaction for the students, cut our costs, and have a monopoly on their books and readers,” I hear the suits say.
As for now, the romantic simplicity of buying your course reader along with a pack of drawing pencils and a cappuccino has become a thing of the past.