For many years, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) offered a two-year ‘luxury’ part-time Master, costing around 17,000 euros in tuition fees a year. The inspectorate later decided that only the statutory tuition fees could be charged, because RSM received government funding for this study programme. The statutory tuition fees are around 2,000 euros, meaning that EUR overcharged to the sum of 30,000 euros in tuition fees in two years, in the opinion of the Inspectorate.
In response to an enquiry by lawyers, the faculty said that the tuition fees were higher because of the more expensive study material, a ten-day stay abroad, more luxurious and modern lecture halls, coffee, tea and soft drinks during lectures, a Christmas drinks party, a final advisory interview and a valuable network of alumni. The part-time study programme mainly targeted people who were already working in their field alongside their studies and thus brought more experience than the average student.
Although RSM never agreed with the Inspectorate, it did set up a compensation scheme for students who had done the Master in the past three years. The faculty has, in its own words, ‘out of favour’, returned half of the excess amount paid. This “leniency” costs the university 3.7 million euros.
Students who did the Master before that time missed out. For that reason, 146 students have launched four lawsuits against the university. The cases will be heard simultaneously on 8 April. If the court finds against the university, it may be liable to pay 140 times 30,000 euros, so over 4 million euros. Together with the 3.7 million already paid, the damage is potentially over 8 million euros.
No further setbacks taken into account
Of those 3.7 million euros, 2.9 million will be repaid by the faculty and 800,000 euros by the university. RSM says that it is not taking further setbacks into account. It is unclear whether the bill will end up with the central university.
According to a spokesperson, the university would not comment on the scheme or the lawsuits. “No further comments will be issued about ongoing legal proceedings and any measures taken, and no information will be provided about their content.”