News - February 21, 2008

Good financial year for Wageningen UR

Financially speaking, 2006 was an excellent year for Wageningen UR. The DLO research institutes made a pre-tax profit of 25 million euros, the university had an operating surplus of 10 million and Van Hall Larenstein closed the year in the black.

Tijs Breukink presented the preliminary results last week to the Supervisory Board of Wageningen UR. According to the financial representative of the Executive Board, the figures are partly due to the Focus 2006 reorganisation under which many jobs were cut, especially at the research institutes. ‘The amount of work and the number of people employed are now better balanced.’ Facilities Services also contributed considerably to cost management. According to Breukink, this department saved ten million euros on purchases.

Some of the positive figures are due to one-time windfalls, such as the sale of buildings, and the institutes earned extra money by clearing the backlog of research assignments from the ministry of agriculture. The audit office was critical last year about the research assignments that had already been paid for but not completed in the same financial year. ‘The figure was 24 million, and that has been reduced to 9 million euros. That means we’ve done 15 million euros’ worth of extra work.’

Most of the positive balance will go to the reserves. ‘Focus 2006 has cost the research institutes forty million euros. Now we have to build up the reserves again.’ In addition, a financial buffer is needed for building plans. ‘We are thinking about new accommodation for the Animal Sciences Group in Lelystad, as the current building is now outdated. Building costs can easily run into tens of millions.’ The university will use part of the profits to finance rising student numbers. Although it receives extra money from the government if it attracts more students, the university has to put its own money up front first.

Van Hall Larenstein made a small profit in 2007. ‘But it is a profit, and that’s a change from recent years.’ Breukink expects that VHL will benefit more in the coming years from cooperation with Wageningen UR as it will be able to make better use of joint services, such as ICT support and purchasing.