Science - January 20, 2005

Over two hundred jobs will go

Over the next few years 223 administrative jobs are set to disappear. These, together with the hundred or so that already went in the first phase of Focus 2006, form over 25 percent of the total cuts. Combined with savings on purchases, this should create 23 million euros.

The Executive Board finalised the plans for cuts in overheads last week and presented them to the personnel involved on Tuesday 18 January. In the administration centre 27 percent of the jobs are due to disappear. The executive board intends to concentrate on reducing the number of jobs for policy officers (beleidsmedewerkers). The administration centre will be reformed so that there is a small administrative staff that will work for the executive board and the corporate board. Chairman of the board, Dr Aalt Dijkhuizen: ‘At present too much policy is created outside our sphere. The new staff will work on the policy we ask them to develop, that we wish to implement, and not on their own initiative however well-meaning the intentions are.’

The departments of education and research will be joined. Executive departments, such as the central student administration will probably be subsumed within other organisational departments, where less cuts are likely to occur. The administrations of the five sciences groups will also have to make cuts of about 25 percent. A total of 50 FTEs will disappear in the financial departments, 33 FTEs in personnel affairs, rising to 44 after 2006 when the organisation as a whole will have shrunk. In the communications departments 15 people stand to lose their jobs. The ICT department is relatively hard hit: the executive board plans on getting rid of fifty jobs, about 35 percent of the total.

Making purchasing more efficient should also save money: 9.9 million euros by 2007. Dijkhuizen: ‘At present we still have seven systems for time keeping and project administration, and these have to be reduced to one. We publish fifty newspapers, bulletins and newsletters; this has to come down to four or five. And these are just a few examples.’ The money that these cuts release will be used for education and research, according to Dijkhuizen. This means the University will have more money available for these activities. In the research institutes the cuts are intended to help close the deficit gaps and reduce the rates charged for research.

The cuts are part of the recovery plan Focus 2006. The executive board still has to discuss with the unions what arrangements will be made for those threatened with redundancy. Dijkhuizen: ‘We at least want to give everyone the chance to apply for new jobs while they are still in their current positions. We would rather not deal with replacement candidates as we have done in the past, as it leaves it mark.’ A mobility centre will offer assistance with finding new jobs.

The executive board hopes to avoid compulsory redundancies, but cannot exclude the possibility. ‘Redundancies are the last option, which we prefer not to use, but people are not just going to be able to sit and wait out the storm.’ / KV

Recovery plan Focus 2006 The first part of Focus 2006 was made public last year: Four hundred jobs were scrapped in the loss-making parts of Wageningen UR, in particular Alterra, the Institute for Animal Husbandry Research and Plant Research International. Three hundred research jobs and one hundred support staff jobs disappeared.

The second part, which was presented this week, has three parts:
Cuts at A&F and the Animal Sciences Group. A&F will disappear as an independent institute, and eighty jobs will go. Most of the institute will be brought under the university. The Institute for Animal Husbandry Research will no longer be a separate division. The Animals Sciences Group will be reorganised into three ‘market windows’: fish, infectious diseases and animal husbandry. An extra 115 jobs will disappear, 65 from research departments and fifty from support units.
Cuts in overheads. In addition to the cuts mentioned above, an additional 225 administrative jobs will disappear across the university and research institutes. The savings made will be directed to education and research.
Core themes will be determined this year, in which extra investments will be made. The executive board will present the supervisory board with a document explaining its choices before the summer.

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