UT intervenes rigorously, possibly more than 500 jobs at risk

| Rense Kuipers , Stan Waning

The departure of up to 500 FTEs of staff, an announced organisational change, a crisis team, and an immediate end to student part-time jobs. The Executive Board is taking firm action to keep the UT financially viable.

Photo by: Frans Nikkels

This became clear on Wednesday morning in a rescheduled University Council meeting. In a presentation, the Executive Board showed which measures should be taken in the short and long term to ensure that the UT does not go under financially. In the favourable scenario, 250 FTEs will disappear in the coming years, seventy percent of which will be support staff and thirty percent academic staff. In the worst-case scenario – the new government plans are an important factor in this – more than 500 FTEs will disappear.

Three scenarios

In total, the Executive Board outlined three scenarios for the medium term. The best-case scenario – or least-bad case – is based on the Spring Memorandum. The scenario assumes the influx remains the same, with a student population of approximately 10,500 in 2026. In that case, roughly 250 FTEs will disappear in order to structurally save 25 million euros. That scenario must be achieved by the end of 2026. The second scenario has a similar background, but takes into account the financial effects of the outline agreement of the newly formed government, such as the expiry of the sector plans. The second scenario should result in structural savings of around 36 million euros, by saying goodbye to around 350 FTEs.

The worst-case scenario also entails additional financial setbacks, such as the deterrent effect of the return of the long-term study fine and a lower influx of (international) students. In that case, 400 to 500 FTEs will disappear, which means that more than 500 people – not everyone works full-time – will leave the UT. This saving should yield 40 to 45 million euros until 2029 and is based on a student population of 9,000.

Crisis team

The UT set up a crisis team called 'No time to waste'. In addition, the plan is that there will be a programme manager for organisational changes after the summer. Because, as the Executive Board informed the University Council, there is now a formal organisational change. Reorganisations may follow.

The Executive Board is also intervening immediately. It means the end of student jobs – student assistants and student on-call workers. In addition, there will be a stop to external hiring, a vacancy freeze on the first flow of money – including PhD candidates and postdocs. International travel on the first flow of money is also no longer allowed, as is starting projects with co-financing without a proper – closing – financing plan.

According to the Executive Board, these immediate measures should result in cost savings of 30 million euros in the short term. They are temporary in nature and exceptions are possible – after approval of the department director or faculty board, the Executive Board said.

Implications for education

In the presentation, the Executive Board also provided insight into the consequences of the financial measures for education, including the discontinuation of student assistants. This is a process that will not happen overnight, rector Tom Veldkamp said. What the UT plans to do in the short term is to reduce overhead costs in faculties, to introduce a budget for each programme and a specific education budget for each faculty.

Concrete interventions include an inflation adjustment for tuition fees for the master's programmes; they will be 10 percent more expensive. The number of exam moments will be reduced and the UT will apply a minimum number of students per course. This should result in 10 percent fewer support staff (150 FTE), 4 percent fewer academic staff (90 FTE) and 70 percent fewer teaching assistants (93 FTE). In the medium term, the UT wants to stop developing new programmes ('the start-up costs are too high'), redesign existing programmes and offer fewer tracks and minors.


According to the first scenario, the UT will have to save 12 million euros this year, rising to 25.8 million euros in 2025 and above 30 million euros per year from 2026. In the second scenario, an additional cut of 11.3 million euros per year would be added from 2026 onwards. The third scenario assumes additional adverse consequences of the outline agreement of the new government. To this end, the UT is taking into account an additional budget cut of 10 million euros from 2029 onwards. According to this worst-case scenario, the UT would therefore have to cut 57 million euros in 2029.

Organisational change

Because the Executive Board announced a formal organisational change this morning, units (faculties and service departments) will have to work on a strategic personnel plan in the coming months. It remained unclear whether this should be a so-called organisational change type 2 (no reorganisation or compulsory redundancies, but the organisation would be restructured), or whether there would also be faculties or services that would have to reorganise (with 'far-reaching legal consequences', meaning lay-offs).

In any case, the University Council was displeased by the procedural course of events and the lack of information from the Executive Board. At the beginning of October, the Council wants to have more insight into the staffing plans of the faculties and service departments.

Stay tuned

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.