News - May 23, 2019

More cash for science & technology

Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

University funding needs to be less dependent on student numbers, and science and technology courses should get a greater share of the budget.

The Advisory Commission on Funding for Higher Education and Research (the Van Rijn Commission) writes this in its report Wissels om. Its recommendations would give Wageningen University an extra 2.5 per cent, or 5.5 million euros, over the next few years.

The report concludes that the quality of higher education in the Netherlands is good but that high standard cannot be maintained much longer. Students and lecturers feel increasing pressure and the student-based funding is a perverse incentive that promotes unlimited growth. That needs to change fast, says the commission. Starting in 2020, the fixed portion of the funding for education should be increased and the student-related portion reduced. For academic universities, this would involve a reallocation of 300 million euros.

A controversial aspect is the recommendation to give most of this money — 250 million — to universities offering ‘science and technical degrees’. This is on condition that they collaborate more.

Education minister Van Engelshoven is impressed with the report. She will be fighting for a bigger budget for education so that the recommendations can be implemented without depriving other institutions.