HomeNews & eventsCorporate announcementsChanging landscape calls for an agile and financially solid university

Changing landscape calls for an agile and financially solid university

The landscape for universities has changed rapidly over the past year. While the costs of academic education and research have risen substantially (for instance because of inflation, the new collective labour agreement and energy), our revenues are actually falling. We need to be prepared for a drop in our international intake, knowing that demographics in the Netherlands may also mean fewer rather than more students. Funding for higher education and research is under pressure, as we have seen with the pause in the Growth Fund last week. It presents our university - like all other universities in the country - with major challenges.

Those challenges require an organisation that is agile and financially solid. But also an organisation that makes choices in what we do and don't do: prioritising, in other words. We would like to take you through what we are doing together to make that happen.

Setting priorities

In previous updates, we have informed you about the financial choices we have to make to get and keep our finances in order.

In our choices, the quality of education is paramount. It is the most important task of our university. Our programmes are rated extremely highly by our students. This is something we are proud of and we cherish. Moreover, it is also very important to remain attractive to future students.

We also want to make choices that are sustainable, building on our strengths. We are a unique entrepreneurial university that brings technology, beta sciences and social sciences together and creates societal impact from there. There are plenty of opportunities to build on that and increase our academic yields.

Seizing opportunities

Together with the deans, the scientific directors, the portfolio holders of operations and the service department directors, we have identified a total of 20 so-called Building blocks. These are all tasks that do not affect the character of UT, but which fit our course. For each of these tasks, a dean, an EB member, or a director is in charge. A number of them we have already taken up or will take up in the coming period. We would like to highlight some of them here.

For instance, we have set up a task force focused on keeping our student intake up. This group has the task of investigating and initiating everything that makes sense to increase our brand awareness among relevant target groups and to better bind interested study seekers to us.

In addition, a team has started working on increasing our third-party income. There are plenty of opportunities to increase these together, in a way that is both academically relevant and financially sustainable.

We are also looking at how to optimise the organisation of our bachelor's and master's programmes. Our education is good, but it is also a fact that we incur much more costs per student than other universities. We cannot continue to afford that. We will have to organise our education more efficiently without compromising quality.


We will also bring more focus to the impact portfolios we work in (chip technology, climate, health, security). A sharper focus on the deployment of people and resources will help us become better. In doing so, we will deploy our research infrastructure more efficiently, focus on strategic collaborations that fit the themes and ensure that our education is even more in line with the main priorities.

But we also keep looking for opportunities to improve and grow. After all, we are the most entrepreneurial university in the Netherlands. UT staff in all faculties see a growing need for education for working people: lifelong learning. Technological developments are so rapid that the need for continuing education is increasing. We want to lead the way in this - we owe it to ourselves, the UT employees of the future, and the employers in the eastern Netherlands. But we will do so in an efficient way. We will also continue to invest in an important position in sustainability and climate. The UT of the future will have a more important role there than it does now.

Finally, action is being taken on a number of operational themes. For instance, we are reducing external hiring.  We will also save on licences and substantially improve our administrative processes. We are also taking a critical look at the ratio of academic and support staff, because we have found that the proportion of support staff is currently too high.

The table below gives an overview of all Building blocks.

Strategic projects

Operational projects

1. Taskforce student intake

1. Optimising administrative processes

2. Efficiency of BSc and MSc education

2. Reducing external hiring

3. Focus in new study programmes

3. Healthy balance in scientific - support staff ratio

4. Increase second and third flow of funds

4. Increasing insight via dashboards

5. Focus in research on impact portfolio

5. Further development of HR programmes

6. Assessment UT Strategic Impulse Programmes

6. Optimise use of leave hours

7. More efficient use of research infrastructure

7. Assessment licences

8. Lifelong Learning (LLL)

8. Reducing travel costs

9. Review strategic collaborations 

9. Increase mobility of teaching staff

10. Embrace a more agile way of working 


11. ssessment interfaculty units


Many of the Building blocks are university-wide and require collaboration from all units. The various projects follow their usual path within the organisation in terms of decision-making, or are part of already ongoing developments, so that the relevant stakeholders are always involved and, for example, employee and student participation is properly organised.

Building together

Together, we want to make these Building blocks a success. They are led by deans, academic directors, faculty portfolio holders of operations and service department directors. They initiate and monitor the progress continuously. We have a central team that monitors integrality, and reports on progress to the Executive Board.

All in all, we are engaged in a challenging task within our university. Faculties and service departments, in close consultation with their participation bodies, are working to bring focus and balance expenditure and income. This is definitely not easy, but it is possible to achieve together. Together, we are building a solid and agile UT!

More background information on our financial challenges can be found on our topic page on the service portal.

L.P.W. van der Velde MSc (Laurens)
Spokesperson Executive Board (EB)