Warning over ‘underfunding’ of Dutch universities

Despite bachelor’s graduates rising by a third since 2009, funding has barely risen faster than inflation

September 8, 2017
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The number of students at Dutch universities has risen dramatically since 2009, but there has been almost no extra government funding to help institutions cope, a report warns.

Between 2009 and 2016, the number of bachelor’s degree graduates increased by a third, while the number completing master’s courses went up by 29 per cent, according to the Rathenau Institute, a science and technology thinktank.

But in the same period, government spending increased by only 13 per cent, against a background of 10 per cent inflation, according to local reports of the findings.

In particular, the institute sounded the alarm over funding levels at the Netherlands’ four technical universities. Over the past decade, the number of bachelor’s graduates from these institutions has increased by 65 per cent, but the universities have received only 8.5 per cent more in funding.

All of them have warned that they will soon have to turn students away from courses because they lack sufficient staff and facilities, according to reports.

The institute said that the Dutch government should revisit how universities are financed.

Melanie Peters, the institute’s director, said: “Instead of talking about turning students away, the debate should be about the quality of our university education and the system that would promote it best.”

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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