The Faculty of Law is facing financial difficulties. Because of increasing deficits, which could reach 9 million euros by 2027, it plans to cut 45 jobs, among other measures. Dean Wilbert Kolkman called the situation ‘painful’.
‘Until a few months ago, we were in good financial shape, but now it’s bad enough to make you want to cry’, Kolkman said during a faculty council meeting.
While revenues are expected to decrease in the coming years, expenditures are increasing. As a result, the faculty is heading for a deficit of over 1.4 million euros for this calendar year, compared to a surplus of 2 million euros last year.
If the board does not intervene, the budget deficit will continue to grow in the coming years, exceeding 9 million euros by 2027.
There are several causes, one of which is a 9 percent wage increase in the new collective labour agreement (cao). The faculty only receives partial compensation for this increase, according to Kolkman.
This problem, however, is not unique. Last week, it was revealed that the financial future of the entire university is highly uncertain due to the wage increase, partly because the government won’t fully compensate for that.
To address the deficit, several actions are being considered. The most significant proposal is to cut at least 45 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions from the current nearly three hundred, for example, by not renewing temporary contracts. This includes about thirty FTEs of additional staff hired for the Ruggesteun project.
Staff who voluntarily seek other employment or retire may not be automatically replaced, according to Kolkman. ‘But if continuity is at risk without filling a position again, we need to discuss that, of course.’ Kolkman calls this ‘vacancy management.’
Another measure is to eliminate the possibility of starting a master programme in February. Reducing the promotion time for PhD students – in some cases, it’s currently six years due to a combination of research and teaching – is also being considered.
Additionally, the faculty is in discussions with the UG board about increasing revenues. Staff will be asked to dedicate more research time to securing projects that can generate income. The faculty also aims to secure more Veni grants.
The faculty board will communicate these measures to staff this week via a letter. ‘I believe they have the right to know what’s on the horizon’, says Kolkman. Students will be informed later via Brightspace.
The faculty board also plans to establish an advisory committee on the budget cuts, with one or two members from each department within the faculty. Students and staff can volunteer for this committee, which will compile a list of all cost-cutting measures by November 1.
‘But that doesn’t mean that all measures will be implemented the following week’, says Kolkman. ‘For example, cutting part of a programme, if necessary, takes much longer.’