Budget cuts Student Union: scrapping of projects and activities

| Rense Kuipers

The Student Union (SU) cannot escape severe budget cuts. In its annual plan for 2024, the SU writes about scrapping several projects such as TEDx and the ECO Challenge and no longer funding study space Wallstreet. But even with those measures, the SU still expects a deficit in 2024.

Without financial measures, the Student Union would be heading for a deficit of 437 thousand euros. The main cause is the increased wage costs of student employees since the transition from UT Flex to Driessen. Those costs have increased by 214 thousand euros, writes the SU.

But because of the financial measures, the Student Union - similar to all the support service departments - has been tasked with presenting a balanced budget. A task the SU takes seriously, it says: 'We are well aware of the current financial situation of the UT and the role we play in the shared responsibility to protect the financial health of the UT'.

In its annual plan, the SU therefore worked out three scenarios to cut its expenses: reducing staff costs by 10 percent, closing study space Wallstreet in the city centre and completely scrapping activities, events and projects, namely: the Student Involvement Consultants, TEDx, the Buddy programme, the ECO Challenge and Create Tomorrow.

Deficit still expected

Not one, but all of those options to close the budget gap were adopted, according to documents that went to the university council. In a reaction, Student Union president Xander Bon reports that two of the measures mentioned will partly become reality. 'The Buddy programme will not be scrapped, but we have to halve the budget for it. And study space Wallstreet is not closing; we are only withdrawing our share of funding, which in principle only leads to reduced opening hours.'

Even with all these three scenarios combined, the Student Union still expects a deficit of roughly 85 thousand euros. The SU would then have to cough up that from its own reserves. The fear is that those reserves would only amount to 55 thousand euros, while the Student Union should ideally have a reserve of 200 thousand euros for financial continuity - according to its strategic long-term plan. Depleting the reserves is 'not a sustainable solution', according to the Student Union.

Fear of no longer performing tasks

Moreover, the Student Union has already taken some financial measures, the plan states. Wage costs have already been reduced by 10 percent, Create Tomorrow will not go ahead and there is less budget available for the Kick-In. For activities during the induction period, 160 thousand euros is available, instead of 180 thousand. And there is also less room for unforeseen costs during the Kick-In: 10 thousand euros instead of 30 thousand.

What the SU mainly fears is that it can no longer perform its mandated tasks. This applies in particular to their 'more than a degree mission' - helping students in their extracurricular development. In addition, should many activities be scrapped, the SU also fears for its own visibility. 'Without these project, the Student Union will be a body merely working on the background'.


Those concerns were shared by Rector Tom Veldkamp and the University Council during their plenary session on Wednesday morning. 'However necessary the measures are, it is worrying what consequences the cancellation of the projects could have for the community,' said Lydia Mak (UReka). 'We cannot have such a situation for several years in a row.'

Rector Tom Veldkamp agreed with her and cited Create Tomorrow as an example. 'That event is part of our community. We may need to rethink how we fund something like that. However, these measures had to be taken urgently, I can only compliment the Student Union for how they have handled this.'

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