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University Council approves university budget

The University Council (UR) approved the outline of the University’s 2024 budget on 18 December 2023. It will also advise in favour of the 2024-2028 budget. At an earlier consultation meeting with the Executive Board, the UR indicated that it was not ready to do so because it wanted to discuss it further with the Executive Board. The UR wanted a firmer commitment from the Executive Board that it would address the workload.

During the extra consultation meeting on 18 December, Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board Martijn Ridderbos promised that the Executive Board would free up one to two million euros to reduce the staff workload. To this end, a ‘Workload Reduction Fund’ will be set up, to which faculties will be able to apply, for example. The Board also committed to intensively involving the UR in preparing the next Framework Memorandum. These commitments finally won the UR over.

At an earlier meeting, the UR had indicated that it did not wish to approve the budget, mainly because this lacked a central vision for workload reduction. The UR then gave the Executive Board a week to come up with a solution to this problem. In a letter sent last week, the Board already indicated which additional resources it planned to use to tackle the workload. The Board further explained its intentions at Monday’s meeting.

Workload Reduction Fund and Framework Memorandum

Most UR groups are pleased with the Board’s commitments, although some members feel that the sum set aside for the new Workload Reduction Fund is too low. The funds that the Board has now pledged come from the contingency pot. Reallocating budgets to free up more money, something one UR member requested, was not possible because ‘everything in the budget is interlinked’, said Ridderbos.

The 2025-2029 Framework Memorandum process allows more room for major adjustments to budgets because that is when the financial developments for the coming years are outlined. The Board promised to involve the UR intensively in the Framework Memorandum process. The UR members are in favour of this. UR member Mark Dechesne (Leidse Academische Gemeenschap) said, ‘We think it is very important that we as the UR can help shape the Framework Memorandum for 2025 to 2029. We will definitely bring up the workload there.’

Positive effect

As the UR has approved and advised in favour of the budget for the coming year, this will now be adopted. The UR having such a spirited discussion with the Board about the workload has already had a positive effect on the organisation, said Ridderbos. It makes it easier for the Board to demonstrate to the faculties and other university managers that the workload is a very important issue at the university. ‘So you in turn are helping the Board.’

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