The funding of universities is based on old data. The Court of Audit believes that money should be added.
The funding of universities is based on old data. The Court of Audit believes that money should be added.

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Court of Audit: money for universities calculated with 37-year-old data

More money needs to go to the universities, according to a new report from the Court of Audit. The current funding is based on outdated calculations from the XNUMXs.

The Court of Audit has expanded research This is done according to the so-called 'estimation models' of various ministries: these are used to estimate – on the basis of certain data and assumptions – how much money is needed for something.

Five cases are discussed, including the funding of the universities by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. And that example in particular shows that the assumptions used by ministries are 'not always up to date', according to the Court of Audit.

1984

That's how it works: the total budget for universities is based on a part for education (2,5 billion euros) and a part for research (2,2 billion euros). For education, the budget is adjusted annually based on the number of students, but the research component does not grow with it.

The distribution of this money in the 1984s was partly based on the time spent by the academic staff at the time. In other words, in the case of the universities: how many of their working hours did employees spend on teaching and research? The problem: The last research on this use of time dates back to XNUMX, and has never been updated since.

The last time use survey was in 1984, and has never been updated since then

At the time, about 35 percent of the university budget was allocated to education and 65 percent to research. That ratio has changed over time due to increased student numbers, the Court of Audit writes. The share that the universities receive for research has now fallen to 45 percent.

If the data on which an estimate is based is not updated for a long time, there is a risk that a budget will "get slightly further out of line" every year, the Court of Auditors writes. 'As a result, a lot of money can suddenly be needed to restore the situation or ambitions have to be lowered. This has adverse consequences for those involved, in this case students and teaching staff.

If the data on which an estimate is based is not updated for a long time, there is a risk that a budget will "get a little further off balance" each year

First aid

In a separate appendix – with the concise title 'First aid for estimates' – the Court of Audit examines the budget problems of OCW in more detail. A recent report by consultancy firm PwC is also mentioned, which states that the ministry is underfunding the universities.

The employees of OCW themselves are 'not alarmed' about this for the time being, according to interviews conducted by the Court of Audit. 'After all, the financial position of universities was healthy and the Netherlands scored well internationally with regard to scientific research. Apparently the universities managed to manage well with the budget.'

The universities see this as confirmation: they want more than a billion euros more every year

But such a situation can come with significant 'hidden costs', the report warns, such as failing to make major investments or relying on unpaid overtime from teaching staff.

The dated data from the XNUMXs is therefore not the only problem. 'If all goes well, an estimate will include all costs, including these, and the ministry will make a conscious choice about the extent to which it wants to cover these costs with its contribution.' According to the Court of Audit, the minister has 'no policy opinion on the extent to which she should finance the costs of university education and research.'

'Yes No'

The universities see this as confirmation: they want to add more than a billion euros a year. “We are out of the well-being discussion”, says chairman Pieter Duisenberg of the VSNU university association. “The facts are on the table. We have the signals from our employees and there are now so many reports – politicians now have to make choices.”

Read also the article from the Education magazine showing that the ministry has misjudged the number of students for years

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