And back to business – after a few final glasses of champagne. This Monday, President of the Executive Board Pauline van der Meer Mohr held the traditional New Year’s speech for EUR students and staff.

The 2015 speech was more optimistic than last year’s, when the mood was more or less set by the announcement of the upcoming reorganisation. And, hardly surprising, Van der Meer Moor also broached on the various reorganisations that are already underway. According to the President, several faculties will have to take some difficult decisions. She pointed out how important it is to limit uncertainty among the staff to a minimum and ensuring that the procedure is ‘responsible, fair and transparent’.

Philosophy

The President made explicit mention of the hubbub that had arisen about the plans for the Faculty of Philosophy. “Mud-slinging in public does the university more harm than good,” in the words of Van der Meer Mohr. She referred to the sharp tone of the opinion pieces dealing with the future of the Faculty of Philosophy that were published last month. “Let’s agree to keep the debate factual and well-informed.” The President once again stressed that while the University has not yet developed a definite scenario, it does face a financial problem in this context that needs to be resolved.

Performance agreements

But Van der Meer Mohr also had brighter news to share. For example, she announced that the University is well on its way to fulfilling all its performance agreements – including those in the area of academic achievement and costs of overhead. And while we shouldn’t expect to see the car park next to the Hatta Building completed in 2015, this year will bring the opening of the new education building, which was topped out just before the Christmas holidays. The President also looked back one last time on the centennial celebrations of the past year, as well as putting the limelight on 21 student members of the Student Centennial Network, who were presented with a certificate for their work. In addition, Van der Meer Mohr spoke of the university’s collaboration with the Municipality of Rotterdam, the Port Authority and Rotterdam Partners. In the year ahead, the partners hope to jointly raise their international profile by means of a campaign with the slogan ‘Make it Happen’.

Sizeable European grant

EUR’s strategic alliance with the universities of Leiden and Delft is starting to bear fruit. Last year saw the launch of the first joint bachelor programme. This will be joined by a new master programme, as well as various minors and honours classes developed by the three universities. “A major highlight is the news about the partners’ Knowledge and Innovation Centres.” In December 2014, the consortia that include both Medical Delta and the LDE Centre for Sustainability landed sizeable European grants to set up a so-called Knowledge and Innovation Centre. Research is expected to benefit from several million euro in new investments.

Student loan system

2015 is expected to bring heavy weather for many students. “While we regret that from the new academic year on, students will be required to borrow, this is the political reality,” noted the President. In the future, universities will have additional funds at their disposal for new investments in education quality, so indirectly, the student body will see some benefit of these changes. “I’m aware this won’t pay their bills though.” Van der Meer Mohr promised that she would continue to monitor the consequences for active students, so that they won’t be troubled by the new loan system more then necessary. “The sole consolation that I can offer is that with the current study success rates, our students won’t have to burden themselves over their heads with loans, and most of them still face excellent job prospects.” TF