On Tuesday, there was an information evening for the two-year part-time Business Administration master at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM). Besides the annual 2,000 euro tuition fee, the university charges another 30,140 euros for two years.

Sandwiches, biscuits and small classes

According to the university, it uses the ‘teaching allowance’ to compensate the extra costs incurred. Van Wijk, who besides being the presenter of the evening is also the academic programme director, lists ‘catering, sandwiches, biscuits, staff teaching small evening classes, and an international trip’ as additional extras that the part-timers enjoy but full-time Business Administration students don’t.

But charging so much money for a programme that is registered as an ordinary master isn’t right, says Minister of Education Ingrid van Engelshoven. This is the reason for the Education Inspectorate’s investigation, which is due to be completed in March. If she is right, the university may have to reduce the fees and perhaps even repay alumni.

Missed something

What do the potential students and alumni themselves think about the uproar over their 17,000 euro-a-year master? The first question of the evening generates plenty of discussion from the audience. One worried participant asks: “I think I’ve missed something. What were they actually saying about this master in the media? Could you explain in three sentences?” There’s muttered agreement from the room.

Van Wijk emphasises: “We feel that new students have an excellent choice between the full-time and the part-time master of Business Administration*. The curriculum is the same, the part-time master just has some extras. If you choose the second option, you do have to pay more.” He is unable to answer any questions about the consequences of the inspectorate’s investigation.

Concerns about quality

At the end, refreshments are laid out for the visitors. Over a beer, Rogier (26) and Ton (27) (no surname because of their employer, MdH) say that they had no idea about the commotion. “My main concern is that the quality of the master may suffer if they aren’t allowed to charge extra money. Apparently they need the money to safeguard this very good quality. Or there must be a huge revenue model behind it, but I can’t imagine that.”

Like most of the visitors, they aren’t concerned about financing such a lot of money. “We’ve got a job (three years’ work experience is a requirement for the master, ed.). I’m planning to talk to my boss about it, and I’m hopeful that he’ll contribute to the costs. And there are other options. It’s deductible from your income and you can apply for a loan via DUO.”

Delayed payment

Alumnus Sabine Gerritsen says that she paid for the studies herself. It was a considerable ‘investment’ but worth it because the master has a good reputation. “And if you do have financial problems, the university is flexible. One girl from my year lost her job, and she was allowed to delay payment,” she explains.

For the person who asked the question at the start, it would make a difference. “I work for an SME,” says the 54-year-old man, who prefers to be anonymous. “For my boss, it’s a considerable amount, and I don’t think he could pay it. Particularly when you see that an LOI programme that gets you a Master of Business Administration costs 2,000 euros,” he laughs.

* Postscript:

RSM has stated that it is also possible to follow a regular full-time master at the faculty in a part-time schedule. A student then follows a master’s program of choice in which the courses are divided over two years and are followed during the day. The student pays the statutory tuition fees per year and receives no extras such as the students of the part-time master business administration that is taught in the evenings.