Nieuws - 10 november 2009

Wageningen UR in the red

The AFSG decision means that Wageningen UR will end up in the red. ‘We already know that we’ll be in debt between 2012 and 2016’, explained executive board chairman Aalt Dijhuizen this morning in the Biotechnion.

The executive board has had various financial scenarios worked out. In the worst case scenario, the ministry of LNV makes cuts, student numbers drop and the real estate market stays slow. In that case the universities' own assets would continue to represent less than forty percent of its total assets (own and borrowed). This percentage is known as solvency, and for a thriving organization it should be over forty. Dijhuizen said the solvency ratio can go lower than forty percent as long as it only does so temporarily. He showed a graph in which this situation is projected for the years 2016 and 2017.
Student numbers are not a big risk factor. The students are in the bag. The numbers of university students have been going up by ten percent a year for several years.
The second parameter is government cutbacks. These are certainly not planned for 2010, and the cabinet is still exploring where it can make cuts after that.
The biggest risk factor is related to making a profit on selling land. Kortenoord (the plot in the west of Wageningen with the Zodiac buildings) is now for sale. If the market is buoyant, it should fetch seventy million euros. But if the market gets a lot worse, so that Wageningen UR cannot sell Kortenoord, or only for a very low price, its solvency will go below the absolute minimum of 35 percent.
'We are taking this risk, on the assumption that there will continue to be a need to build houses', said Dijkhuizen. 'If you only see molehills ahead of you, you're sure to stumble anyway.'