The most important reason is that departments have been too careful and have held on to their money for too long, says Vergauwen. “Sometimes that is understandable. In disciplines such as accounting, a new lecturer expects such a high salary scale that a department justifiably pulls out. We are a university, not a business. Anyway, now it is time to invest in people, to dislodge some of the savings together with the departments. With such reserves, it may seem as if you cannot come up with a purpose for the money, have no innovative ideas, no belief in yourself.”
However, this cautiousness didn’t just fall from the sky, says Vergauwen, but was partly based on the hiring freeze, which the Executive Board proclaimed (instigated by the Supervisory Council) in 2010. “Hindsight is always easy, but the hiring freeze was a wretched idea at the wrong time. When you impose such a measure from the top down, the departments, certainly the smaller ones, will remain careful and conservative. For us, this applies in particular to the business administration departments. The hiring freeze does not suit the management style of a university either. We are used to making our own choices. We are not a biscuit factory.”
The Executive Board is also worried about the trend at SBE, mainly about the ratio between academic staff and support staff. Performance agreements have been made with the ministry of Education on this matter.
This unbalanced growth is not a recent issue. “The faculty has made various attempts at tackling the problem, but these have made very little difference. “We have always wrestled with this staff member ratio, also because we know that we have departments such as a business school, which demands a relatively large support staff simply to obtain revenues.”