The Netherlands’ universities and hbo colleges will not have to sack thousands of lecturers and researchers if they start spending their reserves to compensate for government cuts, according to junior education minister Halbe Zijlstra.
Speaking during a debate on higher education funding on Wednesday, Zijlstra described university estimates of the effect of the cuts as ‘over the top’.
Nijmegen’s Radboud University alone has reserves of €302m, of which €70m is directly accessible, he said. Yet Radboud faces budget cuts of €7.4m next year, he said.
In total, the universities and colleges have €2.9bn in assets. While much of this is tied up in buildings, they all have enough room to make up for the cuts, he said
During the debate, opposition parties said the government’s plans to cut grants for masters students and sharply increase fees for slow students will hit efforts to boost the Netherlands’s status as a knowledge-based economy.
Students and lecturers are planning a mass protest against the cuts in The Hague on Friday.
In total, the government plans to cut spending on higher education by €500m by 2015, the Volkskrant says.
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