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UM budget: more students, more buildings, fewer reserves

MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University is going to spend 2.2 million more next year than it receives. This has to do with previously planned investments in faculties and sustainability measures at Tapijn. Money has already been set-aside for this (designated reserves).

“We are satisfied with the budget,” said vice chairman of the Executive Board, Nick Bos, to two committees of the University Council last week. Regular expenditure is not higher than the income (turnover: 462 million euro). The UM will get in the red, but this is because of using savings set aside for planned investments. These concern the introduction of the new strategy at the School of Business and Economics and further growth – including the temporary appointment of young talent, increasing the number of PhD research projects, and the start of various laboratories - at the Faculty of Health Medicine and Life Sciences. Bos also pointed out that for the first time in years, most vacancies have actually been filled. At the moment, there are 3,879 FTEs (full jobs), 211 more than last year.

The university wants to grow considerably over the next five years. The number of students is expected to grow by three thousand, bringing the total number up to 21 thousand by 2023. The growth is not only achieved by the influx of new students for the existing study programmes, but also by introducing new bachelors' programmes, such as Digital Society (FASoS), Global Studies (UM-wide) and Business Engineering (SBE). Whether the estimated increase for new members of staff (almost 6 per cent to 4,109 FTE) will be sufficient to realise important objectives such as workload reduction, smaller tutorial groups, and more intensive contact hours, only time will tell.

At the same time, buildings will be added and others will be renovated. “In the coming years, we are going to invest millions in laboratories, a Data Science building and the biomedical centre, Tapijn and the renovation of Universiteitssingel 50”, says the director of Finance, Ruud Bollen. “We will pay that from our cash position and where necessary bridging loans.” To ensure that spending remains balanced with the accommodation income, the square metre rate paid by faculties and service centres will increase by three euro annually. 

The two committees of the University Council already accepted the budget last week, with the exception of the quality agreements (see elsewhere in this Observant). The budget and the quality agreements are on the University Council's agenda this Wednesday.

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