Universiteit Leiden

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Executive Board distances itself from Van Rijn Committee

The Executive Board of Leiden University has distanced itself from the Minister of Education, Culture and Science’s response to the Van Rijn Committee report. According to the University’s calculations, following the advice would have serious financial consequences for the entire University and would be at the expense of the teaching and research.

Reallocation of funds

Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven wants to accept the majority of the recommendations from the Van Rijn Committee report. That is apparent from the response that she sent to the House of Representatives on 21 June. This will mean redistributing the funds allocated to higher-education institutions and shifting large sums of money to science and technology programmes. In the long term, this reallocation of funds would be at the expense of the teaching and research in the arts, social sciences and medicine in Leiden. The Committee was commissioned to advise on changes to the present funding system for higher education and research. 

Disastrous effect

‘To our great dismay, the advice has proven to be imbalanced and would have dramatic results. The Minister has chosen to move rather than remove bottlenecks from 2022,’ says the Executive Board. ‘The technology universities, in particular, will receive extra money, but most of the other universities will lose out significantly. What is more, the reallocation of funds will have a disastrous effect on the arts, social sciences and medicine. If we want to solve the problems faced by today’s world, we will need these specialisms too. In recent years, we have been promoting collaboration between all the domains, whereas in this proposal they are being played off against each other.’

Horns of a dilemma

The Executive Board says it is on the horns of a dilemma: ‘If we choose to do nothing, and thus fail to transfer extra money to our science and technology research and teaching, our science domain will lose out to other universities that do invest extra funds. And we can’t have that happening. Furthermore, our university would then not be supporting the political aim of producing more science graduates. As a broad research university, we’re therefore caught between a rock and a hard place.’

Breathing space

Based on current estimates of the financial effect of the report on the University, the Executive Board has decided not to implement the recommendations at the University in 2020, thus providing breathing space of a year. It is unclear whether the measures will be introduced anyway: the House of Representatives still has to decide on the Minister’s advice. 

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