How the Board’s expense claims rose by more than 100,000 euros
In 2019, the expenditure of EUR’s Executive Board increased by an extra 150 per cent…
Last year, EM reported that the Executive Board’s expense claims for 2019 were 100,000 euros higher than the average in previous years. That led to the University Council’s request for the Executive Board to publish its expense claims four times a year, something that is already the practice at several other universities.
According to the guideline for expense claims drawn up by the VSNU (the Association of Universities in the Netherlands), which EUR also signed, and which was implemented on 1 January 2018, universities must publish overviews of all the expense claims of the Board members in their annual report.
EUR will now publish an update on the website three times a year, twice more than stipulated by the guideline. According to Ann O’Brien, secretary to the Executive Board at the university, this frequency was chosen because it coincides with the timing of reports of the financial department.
However, this does not make EUR a leader in transparency. Many other universities like Utrecht, Nijmegen, Groningen and Amsterdam are going even further and publishing all the specifications accompanied by the actual receipts and invoices. EUR is not going that far: taxi costs are shown aggregated, for example, and invoices are not included. According to O’Brien, the information now provided offers ‘maximum transparency’ and gives good insight into how much and what costs the Executive Board members actually incur.
The overviews are published in May, September and January. The specifications published in September show that the recently departed rector magnificus Frank van der Duijn Schouten only spent his monthly expense allowance of 541.36 euros. They also show what expenses the other board members claimed for travel, business meals and accommodation.
Happy with progress
EM TV: ‘More transparency about expense claims needed’
In this episode, EM reporter Marko de Haan talks about his research into the…
One of the (now former) council members who brought up the discussion of transparency in the University Council last year is Ana Uribe Sandoval. In a reaction, the ESHCC lecturer says that she ‘is happy to see some progress’, but she is not yet satisfied. “I think that a lot can be done to improve transparency at the university. But at least we are getting somewhere.”
The discussion about expense claims made by university Executive Board members dates from 2016, when a huge row broke out after a report on RTL Nieuws about the expense claims of Utrecht Executive Board members. The media wrote about claims for ‘expensive flights’ and ‘pricy hotels’. In 2018, that discussion led to the current VSNU guideline.