HomeNewsUT's finances: current state of affairs requires immediate and significant adjustments

UT's finances: current state of affairs requires immediate and significant adjustments

We are in the final stages of the Spring Memorandum, which contains the financial frameworks for faculties and service departments to draw up their budgets for 2025. The Spring Memorandum shows that strong and immediate adjustments are necessary for the University of Twente to remain financially healthy. This means that more direct measures and choices will follow in addition to the existing measures, strategic choices already made, and building blocks deployed. We want to inform you about these.

Providing a complete picture of the current and future situation is important. In this message, we have set out several aspects:

The financial perspective for the coming years

In the coming years, we need to make further structural savings. The savings task increases in the coming years, from €12 million in 2024 to €35.7 million in 2029. The primary causes are declining student numbers and the reduction in the contribution we receive from the State.

In addition, the new coalition's plans in the Dutch Parliament may have further consequences for us. The Outline Agreement states that the Sector Plans will be abolished; as a result, we anticipate receiving EUR 11 million less per year from 2026 onwards. Other measures, including the Internationalisation in Balance Act and the long-term study fine - which may discourage students from choosing to study - also have a financial impact on UT: from 2029 onwards, this would mean an additional reduction in income of 10 million euros.

If all these proposed plans are implemented, we may thus even have to save 57 million euros structurally in the coming years. The UT, together with all other universities, recently reiterated its concerns about these plans. We will continue to make a concerted effort to convince government to make sensible political choices.

Effects of earlier choices and measures taken

In the past period, we have deployed several initiatives to remain financially healthy, such as reducing the housing (LTSH) budget, limiting new vacancies and external hiring and launching the Building Blocks: a set of 20 measures to help become and remain financially healthy. These interventions have come about in close consultation with faculties and service departments and align with how we envisage the future.

Over the past period, we have worked out more precisely how the realisation of these Building Blocks should lead to savings. Not all of them will have their effect immediately. We estimate that we can save 11 million euros in 2025, and that could rise to 31 million euros in 2029.

With the Building Blocks, we can achieve a large part of the savings needed for the coming years, but not all of them. Certainly not with the additional cuts we expect to make due to new national policies. This will require additional measures, university-wide and within the service departments and faculties.

We will save as much as possible on the Central Strategic Budget. In addition, we will make a number of other smaller strategic decisions. As these may affect specific staff or students, we will communicate them directly with those affected before announcing them further.

The Spring Memorandum will also include a target for the service departments and faculties. The faculty boards and the management of the service departments can thereby decide for themselves how they want to make savings, which suits the specific situation of the department or faculty best. We realise that this will be challenging, as they have already had to take many measures in the past period.

Acute measures to be taken

Besides cuts that will have an effect from 2025 onwards, the urgency of the current situation also demands that we implement a number of measures immediately. Exceptions to these measures are possible only after permission from the faculty board or service department management:

  • A stop on hiring students for student jobs, with the work to be carried out by UT employees as much as possible.
  • A stop on external hiring.
  • A vacancy freeze on the first flow of funds. This also goes for new PhDs and postdocs appointed on the first funding stream.
  • A stop on international travel from the first flow of funds.
  • No co-funded projects without a sound and balanced financial plan will be initiated.

Further details of the agreements and working method will follow. Tailor-made solutions are sometimes necessary. In those cases, approval from the faculty board, institute board or service department director is required.

We realise that these are drastic measures. However, the situation is such that immediate adjustment is necessary. These measures are intended to be temporary: this is necessary because strategic choices only sometimes have an immediate financial impact. Over time, we will consider whether the continuation of these measures is necessary.

The impact on the organisation, staff and students

Saving such large sums of money has substantive effects and is also painful for our community. We continue to prioritise maintaining student influx, preserving the quality of education, and increasing income from second and third flow of funds. In these hectic times, it is essential to continue looking out for each other and staying in dialogue with your team and your supervisor.

All units have a financial target in the Spring Memorandum. This summer will show whether the units are able to meet these targets. This should be clear by September. Although the units have yet to prepare the budgets, an organisational change or reorganisation will probably have to take place at one or more units, as the tasking is significant.

This coming week, we will also inform students that they, too, may feel the effects of the current situation.

Preconditions for a successful approach

To ensure that we get our financial housekeeping in order in the coming years and do so in a healthy way, it is important to create the right preconditions. For instance, the units prepare both an annual plan and a multi-year staff plan to accompany their budgets.

In October, we will launch a renewed leadership programme to support managers within the UT in their role in these turbulent times.

Employee and student participation

Last week, we already informed you about the talks with the University Council on the Spring Memorandum. In its last regular meeting, the UC had asked for a more detailed account of the effects of current policies and policy intentions for the coming years.

The University Council agrees to the need to achieve a balanced budget and the proposed financial frameworks in the Spring Memorandum. However, it does want to be more closely involved in the process of budget preparation, to gain insight into the progress of the further elaboration and to take their role in it. To this end, additional meetings will be scheduled in late August and early October.

We are pleased with the critical but also constructive cooperation we have experienced in this. There is a shared awareness of the need to take measures and keep a keen eye on the impact on our staff and students.

Stay informed

Keeping everyone well and quickly informed of all relevant information can sometimes be challenging. So keep a close eye on the service portal (it will be further updated soon) for new updates, and approach your supervisor if you have any questions.

At the UT, our basic principle is to e-mail as few separate messages to everyone as possible because our e-mail boxes are often already overflowing, and the portal provides a good overview of (all) messages.

Meetings are already held at several faculties and service departments, or attention is paid to the situation in work meetings. These are important moments: it is crucial to talk to each other within the faculty, department, or team about the situation, how it affects you and how you can deal with it well.

To conclude

Together, we face a big task. This is not only the case at our university. Virtually all universities are currently facing a significant financial challenge. The need to adapt to the new reality is widely felt within UT, and many are thinking and working together to achieve this. We greatly appreciate that. In the coming period, too, we need all the thinking and implementation power of everyone.

We are optimistic that we will succeed in getting and keeping UT on the right track. Even though we foresee shrinking as a university in the coming years, it is important to keep realising that there will also be new opportunities to continue demonstrating our added value to society.

Vinod Subramaniam, Tom Veldkamp, Machteld Roos
Executive Board