Wageningen University & Research and the three other technical universities in the Netherlands want more funding from The Hague. They predict that the quality of their education will be put under pressure if the funding does not keep up with student numbers.
The technical universities – united in 4TU – are attracting more and more students. In 2006, 32,000 students embarked on a technical degree; last year 50,000 did so. And there is no sign to an end to the growth. But government funding is not keeping pace, says 4TU.
‘We may have to put a cap on admissions,’ says 4TU chair Victor van der Chijs in Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. ‘That means we’ll have to select more strictly, taking only the best foreign students, for instance. Unless we get more money.’
The ultimate consequence would be for the universities to introduce admissions caps. Not an option that appeals to rector Arthur Mol: ‘We don’t want an admissions cap but better funding.’ At the moment only Nutrition and Health has a limit to admissions. Next year two more degree programmes will follow suit: Biotechnology and Molecular Life Sciences.
The issue of government funding has already been a headache for WUR for some time. In the past, universities agreed with the ministry of Economic Affairs that funding should go up and down by a maximum of 2 percent. Now that student numbers are rising at a much faster rate, universities are losing out because of this agreement.
In a response in the AD, minister Bussemaker says she does not intend to give the technical universities more money. She repeats that educational quality is paramount. ‘If degree programmes really cannot cope with the number of applicants, an admissions cap is in everyone’s interests.’