Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven does not have any money available next year to let government funding keep pace with the growth in student numbers at Wageningen University in 2018. The SGP party has tabled a motion requiring the cabinet to compensate financially for the growth after all.
Minister Van Engelshoven, ©Wikimedia
In recent years, government funding for Wageningen has not increased in line with student numbers. WUR was financed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and its rule was that funding could only increase or decrease by a maximum of 2 percent. The coalition agreement promises an end to this rule, but now it seems the government only intends implementing this as of 1 January 2019. It is too short notice to introduce the measure on 1 January 2018, Van Engelshoven told Parliament on 1 December.
In the education debate with the minister on 6 and 7 December, the SGP and CDA parties proposed a compromise. Could the minister calculate the financial compensation for WUR for the next few months and arrange the extra amount for 2018 in the Spring Budget Report? The minister told Parliament she was not prepared to do that. She has already allocated the available budget for 2018 to the universities and she has nothing left for ‘green’ education.
SGP is unconvinced by this explanation. On 7 December, MP Roelof Bisschop tabled a motion asking for green education to receive compensation from 1 January 2018 and the financial impact to be covered retrospectively in the 2018 Spring Budget Report. The minister is advising against the motion. It is not clear when the SGP motion will be put to the vote.
WUR Student Council wrote to the coalition partners at the end of November about this issue. The council pointed out to the parties that the coalition agreement promises that green education will be treated the same as standard education institutions from now on, with funding per participant. Postponing implementation of this agreement is irresponsible, says chair Bregje de Regt. ‘Wageningen University is on the limit in terms of flexibility, its facilities and workload. There is no more slack.’ The Student Council thinks the government should keep to the coalition agreement.