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Van Rijn: Reduce perverse incentive and spend larger share of budget on science and engineering

Serious measures are required to maintain the quality of Dutch higher education, the…

While higher education and research in the Netherlands are of high quality, they won’t be able to maintain this level much longer, according to recommendations presented Wednesday morning by an advisory committee headed by former State Secretary Martin van Rijn.

To preserve the current high standards, the committee has formulated a number of recommendations regarding the redistribution of funding among the Netherlands’ universities. In this redistribution, a net amount of 70 million euros would be shifted between various universities over the course of 2019. The main beneficiaries of this redistribution are the four technical universities; the institutions that ‘lose out’ are the three younger universities (Maastricht, Tilburg and Rotterdam) and the Open University.

Fifteen million euros

If the proposed redistribution were adopted, EUR would have to surrender nearly 5 percent of its direct funding for 2019. According to an analysis included in the report, this amounts to almost 15 million euro, spread across two years. This budget cut is greater than that proposed for any other university in the Netherlands.

Grote vragen

According to the Executive Board, the committee’s report offers “clear recommendations regarding the big questions regarding universities’ funding structure, as well as a glimpse of a desirable progression: from the current distribution model towards a true funding model.”

But the proposed measures would also have far-reaching consequences: “If the Minister adopts the committee’s recommendations, EUR will be faced with hefty and painful budget cuts in the years ahead, according to initial calculations,” writes the Board. “The proposed cuts don’t do justice to the considerable importance of the humanities, social sciences and the medical cluster – both in Rotterdam and at other universities.”

“The complexity of contemporary social issues creates a strong need for insights from the social sciences and the humanities. The growing impact of technological developments, for example, or geopolitical shifts, migration, ethical questions, market processes, research into inequality, the future of our cities, social cohesion, and collaboration at the European level. EUR’s new strategy explicitly focuses on such complex issues.”

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