Arts cutting back even more

The arts faculty is going to cut back even more. The programmes will have to make do with less and the way education is organised will undergo big changes.
By Peter Keizer / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

The faculty has been going through a rough patch for some time. A year ago, it became clear that the faculty’s deficit, which was feared to be several hundred thousand euros, had increased to several million euros. New measures are meant to ensure a brighter future, fast.

According to dean Gerry Wakker, it is ‘too early’ to go into detail about the plans. Over the next few months, the measures will be discussed with staff. But she does give a hint: programmes have to start working more efficiently and there are more cuts coming in education and research, as well as cuts in support for both aspects.

‘That means that programmes will have fewer resources and have to help think about creative solutions in order to ensure an acceptable teaching load’, Wakker responds.

Financial share

The different programmes received a letter this summer that addresses the new financing. Currently, the financial share that programmes in the faculty receive is decided based on the curriculum and the number of students in the programme. But from September 2017 onwards, that will most likely be based on the number of government-funded students and diplomas. ‘This will make it easier to prevent spending more than we have’, says Wakker.

With that in mind, the organisation of education will also be overhauled. The current department boards will be done away with, and the programmes will fall under large clusters of related programmes. Programmes will no longer be isolated islands unto themselves: instead, they will be part of a group of programmes with a shared budget.


‘We don’t yet know what that will mean for the programmes themselves’, says professor of communication sciences Tom Koole. ‘The programmes are encouraged to collaborate, for instance by sharing courses. That means that students of communication and information sciences would be attending lectures together with students of Dutch.’

How that will work exactly is not yet clear, says history professor Maarten Duijvendak. ‘We don’t know which cluster we’ll end up in and whether we’ll be able to achieve synergy. It is also not clear in the available information what kind of collaboration we should be seeking.’


The programmes wonder if the larger clusters will translate into more bureaucracy. ‘Will it create an extra administrative tier? A cluster may take ownership of the programmes, but specific knowledge of the organisation of education takes place at a lower level. My guess is that we’ll end up with shadow boards in order to organise education’, Duijvendak says.

‘You can terminate the municipality system, as it were, and operate with only a provincial government in place. But then the municipalities would probably start organising things on their own’, Koole explains. But it could still be a positive outcome. ‘Students like broad-based compilation programmes. This will allow small programmes to offer more in collaboration.’


The plans add on to previous measures implemented in the faculty. Three years ago, the number of jobs and small language programmes underwent substantial cut backs. In 2014, the faculty was in the red once again, and efforts were made to attract more students with the broad-based programmes European languages & cultures and Media studies. Both programmes turned out to be a success, but gaining students alone was not enough for the faculty to become financially sound.

In 2015, the deficit ran into the millions, and the number of programmes was cut once again. One measure that was taken was a cap on the amount of courses students could register for, so as to ensure that more students would graduate nominally (on schedule).

According to Wakker, the new cutbacks should make the 2017-2020 budget ‘look better than last year’.



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