Various employee participation bodies have expressed strong objections to the plan to create a University Support Centre (USC) comprising (almost) all support services. Improving services, while at the same time reducing costs, is not realistic, is the conclusion of the consultative bodies.

On the one hand, the university wants to free up € 2.7 million annually for the new strategy through the creation of the USC. In addition, an agreement has been formulated with the Minister, stipulating that costs, aside from education and research (overhead), must be reduced. At the same time, the quality of the services provided must go up.

Little confidence

The EUROPA (the trade union representation body at the university) and the EUR Service Commissions (the employee participation bodies of the support departments) recently submitted their advice to the University Council. The advice does not pull any punches and the overall drift is negative. A summary shows that there are 21 points of criticism and questions, ranging from the lack of a supporting financial rationale for the plan, to concerns about the already high work pressures faced by staff.

In addition, there are many objections to the proposed outsourcing of ICT responsibilities over time and the decision to only involve the library and the Education, Research and Student Affairs departments in the reorganisation at a later date. Medezeggenschap 3.0 (Employee Participation 3.0), which is the informal meeting of the above-referenced consultative bodies, has little confidence in the plan. According to Medezeggenschap 3.0, the University Council should consequently decline to approve the plan.

Persuasive response

Kees Lansbergen, Facilities Coordinator for the central support service, as yet is not concerned. While he had expected that there would be a large number of questions, he did not expect the advice to be so critical. “We can provide a persuasive response to many questions. However, at the same time there are a number of matters of principle that will still require significant debate.”

Dual objective is indeed feasible

In Lansbergen’s view the advice asks for a high degree of specificity, for example, while he does not believe it is possible to provide some of the details concerning the improvements in quality at the present time. He is convinced that the dual objective – improved service and cost reduction at the same time – is feasible. “The merger of the organisations, with process improvements and increasing the level of competency, is precisely the way in which to achieve quality improvements and reduced costs. If we were to focus on cost reductions alone, quality would suffer drastically.”

The University Council will discuss the criticism on Wednesday afternoon. In the meantime the employee placement process for those affected by the reorganisation has already been initiated. According to the current schedule, the University Council has until no later than 3 March to approve the plan, if the 1 April date – the date on which the USC is to become a fact – is to be achieved. The members of the University Council will discuss the objections raised to the plan with Kees Lansbergen on Wednesday afternoon. This is a public Committee Meeting and will commence at 15:30 in T3-13. TF