750 million choices
750 million euros. That is how much this university spends in 2018. That means that choices with large consequences have to be made. That is why the December meeting of the university council meeting mainly focused on the budget. We had to give advise on the budget in general.
Furthermore, we have to consent the headlines of the budget before this money can be spent. The headlines include the internal allocation model, investments in education and research, and investments in real estate. The consent applies to investments in education and research of more than €500.000 and investments in real estate of more that € 5 million. The expenses for education and research that had to get our approval were an additional investment in the University College Groningen, Free Dutch Language Courses, the Dean of Industry Relations, and the Dean of Entrepreneurship.
Some of these projects, just like the other central projects within the university, don’t contribute to the quality of education. We believe that the top priority of a university should be the education that it offers to its students. It is important that students can follow small-scale education, with teachers actually have time for them.
Tackling work pressure
We think that our university is still not doing enough to lower the student-staff ratio and the work pressure of the teachers, while they spend a lot of money on big central projects. Projects that, as we have seen in the evaluations so far, often turn out worse than expected. And that is strange: students come to the UG to enjoy good quality education. The fact that there are projects besides education that produce indirect advantages is of course fine, but our focus should mainly be on the education. And as our university has the worst student-staff ratio in our country, we didn’t want to concede until this will be tackled. Otherwise those central projects are extra ballast that result in extra stress and disappointing results.
Luckily, other council members agreed with us. After a long discussion of this approach, we found a joint solution. We will install a project group that will investigate how faculties can tackle work pressure, for example by hiring more teachers, and what is the best way to finance this. This will include a review of central projects, which might have to give up a part of their budget. During the discussions about the financial framework in April, we will decide further on this matter. With this compromise, we gave our consent on the budget, with the exception of the earlier mentioned deans. We are still not convinced of their useful purpose, we’re awaiting more info on their activities and results. To give them some more time to elaborate on their first reports, we will give our final verdict in April. To be continued.