The corona crisis greatly accelerated online education. Faculties had to transform lectures into online ventures, they had to rent streaming facilities and purchase video-conferencing software. In addition, the pivot brought a considerable amount of work pressure with it. Especially research and writing funding applications suffered in consequence, according to a survey of the faculties.

Hardest blows

The hardest blows landed on EUR holding, under which all companies associated with the university fall, and Real Estate & Facilities (REF). Of the Woudestein faculties, the Erasmus School of Law (ESL) was most heavily affected with a bill of 1.3 million euros. The bills also mounted up for the medical faculty, of course. Its Covid bill is assumed to amount to around 5 million euros.

Less parking fees, more guards

The REF, the department for buildings and technical services, rented out fewer facilities this year and collected less in parking fees. At the same time, the number of campus guards and the cleaning costs escalated. The service also spent on signage to enforce the one and a half metres distancing. Another loss item was the lack of income from room rentals. The university guarantees the rental of student rooms on campus. That cost the REF about 700,000 euros this year. In total, the damage due to corona on the balance sheet is about 4.9 million euros.

Thanks to Covid-19, the EUR Holding will be about 3 million euros in debt. The holding, a collection of companies linked to the EUR, has mostly lost funding (2.2 million) and also expects to collect 3.5 million euro less in income from college fees. On the other side, there was a savings of no less than 2.8 million euros in travel expenses.

RSM: Zoom and Teams

In the overview, the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) is still 4 million in the red, but according to the faculty itself, that total has already been adjusted to 1.5 million in the red, which is about the same number as budgeted in advance. This is largely due to the faculty no longer having to set a compensation scheme for part-time students on its profit and loss account but only on its balance sheet. That’s a difference of about 3 million euros.

The faculty has lost about 750,000 euros due to Covid-19. That amount is made up as follows. On the one hand, there is less income from externally financed research and more expenses for technical services, like licences for Zoom and Microsoft Teams. On the other, travel expenses are down (1.4 million euros). The greatest damage is still invisible, according to the director of operations, Anne van de Graaf. “There is definitely pain. Much research has been suspended or incurred delays. We shall only notice the outcome in the coming period. We have also got many more students, about 25 per cent more. That is likely due to corona. We are going to enjoy having them in the coming years, but this also costs money, which is only earned back later.”

‘There is definitely pain. Much research has been suspended or incurred delays.’

Anne van de Graaf (RSM)

The balance of the RSM is exclusive of the commercial branch of the faculty, the RSM BV. It primarily takes care of MBA courses, custom educational programmes for organisations and open programmes. Especially the income from open and custom programmes turned out much lower, being 3.3 million euros less than expected this year. With a plethora of cost reductions, both on the programme costs and facilities and with a reorganisation, RSM BV managed to save 2 million euros, so the total amounts to 1.3 million euros in the red.

ESL: Small groups

At the ESL, the cost is about 1.3 million euros. Due to delays in research and research requests, the faculty has lost about 900,000 euros. According to Egon Houben, director of business operations at the faculty of Law, education has also become more expensive, among other things ‘by accelerating the development and organisation of hybrid education, the accelerated development of digital exams, associated IT costs and the provision of homeworking facilities’. “During the crisis, the tutor groups in the bachelor programme were hybrid whenever possible, in small groups. That was twice a week, with five students on campus and five behind their laptops per group.” However, according to Houben, the previously issued prognosis was adjusted internally during the year, by about 7 tons. “In March a (much higher, ed.) estimate was made with the knowledge that was available at that time and including a number of principles that we wanted to maintain within our education, such as problem-based learning and on-campus education wherever possible.”

ESSB: Additional supervision

The ESSB states that it has lost about 700,000 euros due to corona. The expenses primarily came from developing online education at an accelerated pace. “This included additional supervision for lecturers, an extensive helpdesk function within the faculty, licences and other IT costs. In addition, facilities for working at home were financed, for example laptops and mobile telephones,” wrote a spokesperson. For this coming year, the faculty expects a negative result of 1 million euros. Along with the cost items that were influential in 2020, there will be the effect of a lower influx of non-European students, whose higher tuition fees normally bring in a considerable amount of money.

In total, the university is anticipating a loss of no less than 46.7 million euros. That is 19.8 million more than the budgeted shortfall of 26.9 million. Keeping the costs due to corona to one side, the EUR has done better than expected. The budget plan of minus 26.9 million euros was a conscious choice last year: the university had been accumulating a surplus for years, which had to be corrected.


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