WAU's Executive Board launched its most far-reaching plan this week, the so-called Masterplan. The Board is still busy implementing a ten-million-guilder cutback, but has announced a new 24-million-guilder reduction of WAU's expenses over a period of four years, starting in 1996. Another two hundred employees will have to leave the university, because the Dutch government is to reduce its contribution.
The Board wants to cut WAU's educational programmes by 4.7 million guilders. Courses that attract less than ten students are in danger - either they will be abolished, or they will have to merge with other courses. The reduction will be organised by newly appointed educational institutes, which will combine Dutch programmes and MSc courses in order to make them cheaper. In particular the engineering degree courses in Agricultural Systems Science, Crop Science and Horticulture will be unable to continue separately. The same is true for the MSc courses in Environmental Sciences, Animal Science, Agricultural Engineering and Biotechnology.
Moreover, the Board intends to limit departmental research to an amount of 4.2 million guilders. Another 1.8 million will be cut from the central budget for education and science. Half a million will be cut from secondary employment benefits (such as childcare facilities), another half a million from the library, and 4.8 million from managerial services. The budgets for housing and equipment will also be lowered to an amount of 8 million guilders. The Board says it wants the university to concentrate on core activities. After the reductions the financial means of the university will be lower, but quality will be higher." We'll keep you informed of the critics' reactions.
The central administration has made a firm commitment contribution to the Masterplan of the Board. It is increasingly eager to export its facilities for strategic planning to developing countries in the context of Institutional Development. The cooperation between universities from North and South used to be between departments, but under the new Dutch policy WAU as a whole should aim to support universities abroad, advising the Boards on how to implement their own policies. The terms of reference should come from the recipient universities, but they often lack the capacity to do so and hesitate to bite the Dutch hand that feeds them.
In striking contrast, developing country Indonesia wants to fund a chair at WAU! The Minister of Forestry of the former Dutch colony is willing to pay for the chair of Professor Oldeman, who is on the list of redundancies in the latest Chair Plan. One of Oldeman's graduates, Dutchman Willy Smits, who is developing reforestation techniques in Indonesia, was the main adviser to the Minister of Forestry. Wageningen has a lot of knowledge about tropical forestry, dating back to the colonial period", says Smits. The Minister has made long-term plans, and doesn't want this knowledge to be lost. He is in favour of a structural contribution of this chair." The WAU Board is in a difficult position now: it can't refuse, but it cannot lose face by allowing Oldeman to continue his chair either. It therefore has to bargain about the terms of reference.