‘Perfect storm’ results in 9-million-euro deficit at Management faculty
The Management faculty is facing a 9-million-euro deficit. New vacancies have been frozen and zero-hour contracts are not being extended, but there is presently no talk of layoffs. The faculty had invested in improved quality of education and a reduction of the workload.
Comments of a ‘perfect storm’ are blowing through the corridors of the Management faculty, which is currently short a few million euros. Fast growth in the number of employees, combined with less money from The Hague than expected, high inflation, wage increases, and a delayed response have landed the faculty in trouble. Because of this combination, the financial strains that are felt in multiple faculties right now, are especially severe at the Nijmegen School of Management.
Between 2020 and 2023, the amount of fte has grown by 53 per cent within the faculty, explains Arnoud Lagendijk, professor for economic geography. The budget rose as well, by about 30 per cent, but inflation has eaten up a large piece of that growth. If corrected for inflation, the budget only rose by 5 per cent.
Management had undergone such a large growth over the past years because its staff was too small for the number of students; the workload too high. There were even talks of underspending. ‘On top of that, the executive board has urged the faculties to budget negatively,’ says assistant professor and member of the representative council of the Nijmegen School of Management Gaard Kets. A deficit of 1,7 million euros had been expected – and this shortage now turned out to be much bigger.
According to a university spokesperson, the policy had been implemented ‘to be able to invest in the quality of education and research and to tackle the perceived workload. However, we should not lose perspective on our goal to aim at a zero budget deficit in the long term.’
Additionally, the policy was adjusted at a time when the managing director of the Nijmegen School of Management had left the faculty and an interim dean had to be employed. According to Kets, this might explain why there was a delay in understanding where the faculty was heading financially.
The faculty has been ‘playing Santa Clause’ over the years, says Lagendijk. ‘It now appears that for newly appointed professors, often there was also an additional PhD candidate hired. That has accelerated costs quite substantially, even though they are fortunately not structural.’
For now, the faculty has implemented a ‘stop to new vacancies, a restraint on extending temporary appointments, and the mandate for entering into (personnel and equipment) obligations has been limited to the faculty board,’ writes the faculty’s managing director Monic Schijvenaars in an email to Vox.
‘That doesn’t mean that people are out on the street’, says Kets, responding to reports in other media. ‘Student assistants with a zero-hour contract have been informed that they will not be called upon in the second period. But we assume that assistant professors and PhD candidates with, for example, a short term contract over one-and-a-half years will likely receive an extension based on their function.’ Kets explains that the faculty board’s goal is to solve the shortage without reorganizing.
Balancing the budget
The question remains how the faculty will attempt to solve the shortage without harming the quality of education or increasing the workload. ‘A reorganization isn’t a desirable step forward and costs an immense amount of money. Additionally, if we do that, we end up with the same issue of too few teachers for too many students,’ according to Kets. Lagendijk states that the university receives more money from the national budget for education and a decrease in pension. ‘However, that’s not clearly reflected in the faculty’s budget. And we had also been told that the faculty was doing well financially.’
The Executive Board was not available for comment regarding possible financial aid for the faculty. According to the university’s spokesperson, the Management faculty would have to balance its budget until 2027, just like other faculties. ‘Discussions with the faculty will focus on how to get on track for this goal and what measures need to be implemented for this.’
For now, the faculty has appointed a temporary crisis organization to analyse the situation. It is not clear when more information regarding future measurements will be announced.
Translated by Antonia Leise