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Rearranging money and powers

Rearranging money and powers

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts

MAASTRICHT. The School of Business and Economics (SBE) has changed course: future decisions on education will be made not by the departments, but by special project teams. Powers will be transferred from the departments to these teams, and the departments will be expected to invest their ample savings. These changes should remove major barriers to overhauling the education on offer at SBE.

Dean Philippe Vergauwen compares the departments to “fiefdoms”, which have considerable autonomy in managing their own revenues and expenses, but also tend to hoard their money in order to fall back on it in hard times. These savings, some €12 million, are lying dormant and rarely invested in departmental projects, says Vergauwen. Yet they would come in handy to lighten the workload for staff or get new courses off the ground.

The powers of the departments, too, serve as obstacles to innovation in education. Says Vergauwen, phoning from South Africa where he has been teaching this week: “If you want to set up a new programme that involves various departments, you get bogged down in discussions about money and everyone’s stake in the programme. This is barking up the wrong tree; even the departments themselves realise that. It’s got to be about content.”

SBE has therefore designed a new financial structure in which the money will go to inter-departmental project teams responsible for education. There will also be incentives that increase the appeal of investing. The departments will not disappear, Vergauwen emphasises, but will serve first and foremost as the home base for specific expects. They will also take on more HR duties.

Not everyone will be cheering. “I’m definitely going to receive angry emails from staff who will have less of a say from now on”, Vergauwen expects. “Still, these reforms are necessary. The younger academic staff and the support staff are most in favour; the support staff in particular have long been calling for action to be taken.”

Vergauwen explained the plans, which are based on the groundwork done by five separate working groups, in two presentations – one for staff and one for students – in the SBE auditorium last Thursday. The questions asked suggest that insecurity plays a role in opposition to the plans. “This is not a reorganisation”, Vergauwen says. “No one’s going to lose their job.”

Click here for the report on the presentation for the staff




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