Students in the Rotterdam School of Management’s (RSM) two-year part-time Business Administration master’s programme end up shelling out 34,000 euro, or 17,000 per year. This far exceeds the statutory tuition fee of 2,060 euro the institution is actually allowed to charge. RSM has been using the higher fee for years now, citing the different nature of the programme and the corresponding ‘additional costs’ 1.
Preregistration for the part-time Business Administration master scheduled to start in September 2019 will close on 7 December.

Investigation still in preliminary phase

According to an Inspectorate spokesman, the investigation is still in a ‘preliminary phase’. He attributes the delay to an unfortunate combination of circumstances: inspectors forced to withdraw due to illness or inspectors being assigned to different cases. Inspectors had in fact visited Rotterdam in the summer, reported RSM in September. “We discussed the materials submitted, and we’re now waiting for possible follow-up questions and/or feedback from the Inspectorate”, responded an RSM spokesperson in an email. RSM sees ‘no reason to review the current tuition fee’.

Very simple

Member of Parliament Frank Futselaar (SP) fails to understand why the investigation has stalled. “The situation is quite simple: it’s simply not permitted. Of course a university can have a private branch of activity, but it can’t finance this with public funds. I don’t see why an investigation is needed in the first place.” Fellow MP Harry van der Molen of the CDA governing party is likewise curious as to why the investigation is taking so long. He wants to ask the minister for an explanation.
Just like the MPs, Brechje Keukens of the Landelijk Studenten Rechtsbureau (an office providing education-related legal services to students nationwide) feels it’s a clear-cut case of Erasmus University breaking the law. “Students who have been duped by these high fees should get in touch with us.”

Private or public degree programme?

High tuition fees are by no means unusual in business programmes. Nyenrode University and TIAS Business School charge similar fees, but in contrast to RSM, these are private institutions. Formally speaking, RSM’s part-time master’s programme is not registered as a private programme but has the same administrative status as the regular full-time Business Administration programme.

  1. The programme’s digital brochure offers some explanation of the tuition fee. According to RSM’s website, the total amount consists of the statutory tuition fee and ‘additional costs’ such as small-scale lectures, extra costs for lecturers in evening classes, better lecture halls, registration costs for lectures, costs related to producing digital educational video materials, books and printed readers, and costs associated with the international project and the level of service provided by the programme. ↩︎