Let’s analyse that sentence. USC stands for University Support Centre, an amalgamation that dates back to 2015 of a number of supporting services, such as ITS (computer services), ITD (computer development), HR (human resources), E&S (education and student affairs), FS (facility services) and FIS (financial services, which shouldn’t be mixed up with FS) and more. USC will soon be divided into six separate services, which means you can forget about that abbreviation pretty soon. In the meantime, we came across our next abbreviation: E&S, which is short for Education & Student Affairs. But what about FO? That’s ‘front office’, the front desk in the Sanders Building (which is also called the ‘L Building’ rather than the ‘S Building’ as you would expect, but never mind that).

What is ‘CIO-Tinbergen’? That’s not the Central Information Office (also called CIO) — which is actually the policy department for IT affairs (and shouldn’t be confused with ITD) — but rather ‘Campus in Ontwikkeling’ (literally: ‘Campus in Development’), which should officially be abbreviated as CiO, but which is here written in capital letters only, to add to the confusion. CIO-Tinbergen is therefore the renovation project of the Tinbergen Building (which, as you might have guessed, is not called the ‘T Building’ — which in fact refers to Mandeville — but the ‘H Building’). Have we lost you yet?

Consider the fact that the Highlights Report consists of 58 pages and is only one of the 31 documents that were discussed by the University Council during its meeting, and you will start to understand how inaccessible things are. We should also emphasize that the abbreviations are not explained in the documents. The University Council meets publicly, but it’s almost like you’re not supposed to understand the meetings.


De abbreviation bonanza isn’t just limited to technical finance documents only. Even the university’s name is part of the conspiracy. Are outsiders aware of the fact that, for instance, there’s a difference between EUR (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and EUC (Erasmus University College, a part of the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences for the study programme Liberal Arts and Sciences). Public broadcast organisation RTV Rijnmond recently mixed the two up.

If students are lucky enough to get to the right university, there’s the matter of what study programme they’ll be enrolling in. Despite the comparable names, IBA (International Business Administration) has nothing to do with IBACS (International Bachelor Arts and Culture Studies), nor with IBEB (International Bachelor Economics & Business Economics) or IBCoM (International Bachelor Communication and Media). Image wanting to study Arts and Culture, but accidentally enrolling in Business Administration!

And then there’s the issue of students who are unable to pronounce the name of their own faculty, which is likely to change within a few years anyway. Social Sciences was until recently abbreviated with FSW (for the Dutch ‘Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen’); a reorganisation saw the name change to ESSB (Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences), however. But an upcoming merger with ESHCC (Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communications, previously FHKW) will probably change the name to ESHSB. Pronouncing the abbreviations in English can be quite a challenge for managers, as was made evident during recent faculty council meetings.

Dancing or debating?

Once you’ve joined your faculty, things are sadly unlikely to improve. The ESSB currently consists of two departments, DPAS and DPECS. These abbreviations are short for Department of Public Administration and Sociology and Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies, respectively. Important detail: if the abbreviations are used in English, you are unlikely to hear the difference; you’ll have to be on the lookout for that C, as the E in DPECS merges with the P.

Surely the world of student associations is free of all that gobbledegook? Think again! You might want to go dance the night away at the EDS (Erasmus Dance Society) and instead get stuck at the Erasmus Debating Society.

Did you survive?