The budget of 2023 until 2027 was on the agenda this morning. From these financial plans it is evident that the UT will certainly not be budgeting cautiously in the coming years. While the UT already has a deficit in the millions this year, in 2023 the university expects a deficit of 15 million euros. In the years that follow - until 2026 – the UT is also anticipating deficits at the end of every year.
And all that in uncertain financial times, as noted by council member Pieter Boerman at the introduction of this topic. ‘In terms of intake of students and PhD candidates, energy costs and the extent to which the government is going to compensate salaries due to inflation. We live in uncertain times.’
Nevertheless, the University Council was not unwilling to consider the plan of the Executive Board to budget ‘countercyclically’. This means that the UT would actively go against the economic cycle. In simpler terms, the UT wants to invest now that the Dutch economy is facing a downward trend as to cushion that effect to some extent.
Machteld Roos, vice-president of the Executive Board, acknowledged that this is not without risks: ‘Fortunately, we have substantial reserves; we can invest and simultaneously absorb disadvantageous shocks.’ Rector Tom Veldkamp added: ‘It’s important to continue investing such that we have a stronger and healthier foundation ahead of us. We are doing so in joint cooperation with the faculties and services.’
According to the rector, all faculties will present their own ‘domains plan’ in the coming year, which should clear up which disciplines require more attention regarding growth or shrinkage. Such conversations should also be had with the faculties when it comes to for which educational programmes growth is desirable, according to Vinod Subramaniam, president of the Executive Board. ‘We need to grow in a well-defined and targeted manner.’
Don’t lose control
The University Council further called for more measures regarding energy-saving to reduce energy costs. But the essence lies in informing, monitoring and making timely adjustments, a notion on which the University Council and the Executive Board both agreed. ‘We will come up with several scenarios and inform you in time,’ Roos told the council.
Given the 'uncertain times', 2023 will undoubtedly be a 'financially interesting year', University Council chairman Herbert Wormeester concluded. 'I hope we don't lose our grip on the steering wheel.'