The continued inflation means topping up the scholarships of scholarship PhDs has become particularly expensive. It’s costing the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) alone nearly a million euros a year.
For years, the ‘top-up’ scholarships at the UG were an example for other universities. International PhDs coming to Groningen on a low scholarship would receive extra money to ensure they made the same as PhDs in the scholarship experiment.
But the increased inflation has seen PhDs’ allowance rise by approximately 10 percent, which means scholarships that used to suffice now also have to be topped up. These top-ups have become so high that the university has to pay taxes over them. ‘And that created a quantum jump in the cost’, FSE dean Joost Frenken explained to the faculty council on Wednesday.
The university pays a maximum of 750 euros of these top-ups each month. The faculties themselves have to pay the rest. FSE passes on those costs retroactively to the research groups, starting January 1, 2023. ‘My first reflex was that we should pay this’, said Frenken. ‘It is morally right to do so. But we don’t have that luxury. We simply don’t have that amount of money.’
Before this, faculties didn’t have to contribute to a Chinese CSC scholarship, for instance. Today, they cost around 243 euros a month. The extra costs of a Chilean ANID scholarship are even at 872 euros a month.
Researchers on the faculty council are worried, since the research groups weren’t prepared to have to take on these costs. ‘Is this even legal?’ George Palasantzas wondered ‘I would not have taken a PhD when I knew I couldn’t pay the salary.’
Yes, it is legal, the faculty board emphasised. After all, adjustments to the collective agreement also have to be paid. Cancelling a scholarship for financial reasons is impossible.