ScienceGuide discovered Tuesday that the outgoing government’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Science budget calls for cuts in university education amounting to 40 million euros between 2026 and 2033. The cutbacks are the result of IT problems at the Education Executive Agency (DUO). Upgrades to DUO’s IT systems led to major technical problems, and that turned to out to be significantly more expensive than planned.

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Poor service at DUO: more patience required

The Education Executive Agency, a.k.a. DUO, is doing a poor job of serving its customers.

This comes on top of yet another 226-million-euro higher education cutback on the books. That shortfall was the result of missing out on income from student loan interest payments. This cutback had already been announced two years ago. At that time, Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra said that the next Cabinet would be tasked with considering the question of cutbacks.


It is worth noting that the government wants to shift this financial setback to the universities. It used the same tactic with costs for the COVID-19 support measures for students during the pandemic crisis. Around 150 million euros earmarked for the living expenses of students was offset by cutbacks to institutions for secondary vocational education, higher professional education and university education. It was only after intense pressure from the Lower House that this cutback was eventually scrapped.

The VSNU Association of Universities in the Netherlands is fed up with the cutbacks scheduled to take place in the coming years. “This Budget Memorandum marks the first time that the government acknowledges the problems at universities, but it still fails to address them,” says President Pieter Duisenberg. The VSNU also voiced concerns related to the delay in forming a government: “That prolongs the 1.1 billion euros in underfinancing of the universities. The Netherlands is also missing out on 5.6 billion euros from the EU recovery fund, while other countries are fully committing to knowledge and innovation. We’re losing ground as a knowledge-based economy, while the work pressure continues to mount. We need a new government as soon as possible, one that will invest in education and science.”