There was a lot of criticism for the measure itself and certainly for the way in which it was announced in the university. The university council was not happy with the halt on vacancies and the ban on extending temporary contracts, last Wednesday. The Executive Board nevertheless strongly defended its necessity.
To start with, the university council was not pleased with the fact that the Board had announced the halt on vacancies without first consulting the council. Board member André Postema offered his apologies for this: “The intention was to do so, but it never happened,” he said. Otherwise there was nothing wrong with the communication process, he argued.
Some of the council members' questions concerned the unexpectedness of the measure. During the latest budget discussions, there were no red flags, they said, and then a few months later there is such a drastic intervention? But Postema denies that: even then, tough times were announced. “And we could have waited until autumn, when the ministry will most likely announce a cut of 10 or 20 million euros for the UM, and we will have to reorganise and let people go. We want to prevent that.”
Council member professor Wil Foppen said that he was “baffled” about the measure: “The Board sees that the government intends to introduce cuts and immediately passes it on to the university. That is a conditioned reflex. While it is a Board’s task to find creative solutions and organise support for those solutions. One could also make investments that would earn money.”
Postema replied that the Board is also doing those things (“more post-graduate courses, selling expertise, as is being done with the medical curriculum to Saudi Arabia”), but that an intervention now is necessary anyhow. He strongly opposed the suggestion that the Board had, in the recent past, “squandered money on large projects such as Brains Unlimited or MUSL. Brains is budget-neutral and MUSL may not be so successful but there is no connection with the cuts.”
No decision has been taken yet on a number of large investment projects, he said: the Tapijn barracks, the sports hall, the renovation of UNS50, and the continuation of the India Office and the Leading in Learning project. “These are all still open.”