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FPN: plugging the gap is unrealistic

MAASTRICHT. Both the board and the Faculty Council of Psychology and Neurosciences were completely taken aback when the University Council did not approve their quality agreements. The University Council could not look past the gap of 1.8 million euro between the income and expenses for education. But this deficit has always been there and never before has it been a problem, the Faculty Council stated a week later.

The University Council also criticised the fact the Faculty Board presented no new plans for the improvement of education, despite the fact that they meet the requirements for the quality agreements by continuing with the existing policies.

The latter criticism is the easiest to ward off, said the board in the Faculty Council meeting on 20 December. There are actually new plans. The Faculty Council had already seen them, along with the quality agreements. Because they don't fit in with the chosen themes in this round - small-scale intensive education, supervision of students, and ‘professionalisation’ of lecturers - the document was not sent to the University Council. They will receive it now.

Explaining what has caused the 1.8 million gap, is more difficult. The problem is that the faculty behaves like a science faculty – including expensive laboratories and Tesla scanners – but does not receive appropriate funding for this. Because research and education are so closely interwoven, both education funding and research funding are used for this purpose.

The students in the Faculty Council don't have a problem with this. “We believe that research is very important and we are involved in all kinds of ways. That is the very reason why we chose this study programme,” they said during the Faculty Council meeting. They think it is unfortunate that their colleagues in the University Council did not consult them beforehand. Dean Anita Janssen asked them to come to the next University Council meeting. “So that you can tell them yourselves what our education is like.”

The board is now trying to show exactly what happens with the money, they said in the Faculty Council meeting. Firstly they looked at how much time academic staff actually spends teaching. The assumption was 45 per cent of their time, but this turned out to be 60 per cent. This means that 60 per cent of their salary comes under ‘education’. Hence the formula for the use of classrooms also changes.

A new formula was also applied to the use of laboratories. The old one dated back to before the start of the research master's; these students make full use of the labs. Lastly, the hours that the students spend with the Tesla scanners have been counted and a mistake has been removed from the budget: a contribution towards academic improvement should have been placed somewhere else. 

Despite these measures, there is still a deficit of 947 thousand euro. During the Faculty Council meeting, the board wondered if they should even try to fix it. “If we were financed like a science faculty, we wouldn't have this problem,” said director Carolien Martijn. “Pretending that everything is fine, is unrealistic.”

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