Sizeable additional costs because of cyberattack and COVID-19

UM financial interim report: service centres missing out on income, faculties are spending less


MAASTRICHT. The faculties are spending less money this year, but at a central level and in the service centres, Maastricht University is spending a great deal more, or is losing income. This has to do mainly with the effects of the corona pandemic and the cyberattack, said financial director Ruud Bollen to the University Council last week.

The interim report on the expected financial results of 2020 was on the agenda. In total, the UM is expected to come out better than was expected: not a deficit of 6.1 million, but somewhere between zero and five million euro.

Profit is made (7,8 million in total) from, for example, faculties spending less money on congresses and traveling expenses as a result of COVID-19. The costs for internships are also lower (the UM pays hospitals for internships), because they didn’t happen last spring. At the same time, more money was received because of the higher tuition fees, an increased contribution from the government, and income from contract research.

The service centres (with a budget deficit of 0.7 million, but now expecting a 3.2 million deficit) saw their expenses rise because of measures to make buildings COVID-19-proof (such as purchasing posters, signposting, disinfectant posts, taking on COVID-19 stewards) and the use of IT to make online education possible. At the same time, income from the Summer School and the Centre for European Studies (CES) has dropped, the Guesthouse was practically empty from March until August and is still suffering from lack of occupancy. UM Sports has also noticed the consequences of COVID-19. All activities stopped temporarily in March; UM Sports is still running, but was forced to operate at a much lower level than normally.

At university level, a little more than 4 million extra will be spent (the estimated 5.3 million profit has now been adjusted to 1.1). This is primarily because of the cyberattack that hit the UM at Christmas 2019, and obviously the costs related to COVID-19.

If we look at just the costs of the cyberattack: for the service centres and ‘central’ together, these amount to more than 4 million, says Bollen when asked. “We don’t have a clear picture of the amount for the faculties yet.”