PwC concludes that universities are €1.1 billion short
Universities and UMCs endorse PwC's conclusion that academic education and research are 1.1 billion short. The researchers also argue in favour of a new funding model, one that moves away from distributing a fixed amount based on ever-growing student numbers and moves towards formulating ambitions and adjusting the funding accordingly. Universities and UMCs support these recommendations. VSNU President Pieter Duisenberg: 'The PwC study confirms that extra investments will be needed to maintain the level of academic education and research in the Netherlands. This will enable us to organise education on a small scale, reduce the workload and create more scope for independent research.' NFU President Margriet Schneider: 'Scientific knowledge and innovations will be needed if we are to continue to provide excellent care in the future. By setting ambitious goals in our research and education, we can work towards medical breakthroughs in research and train the best people for the care and lives of tomorrow. We would therefore ask politicians to continue to invest in knowledge and innovation.' The student organisations ISO and LSVb support this appeal.
Research into structural deficits
The study published today by PwC was commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The study confirms previous analyses showing that research at universities is increasingly subject to ‘projectification’: only 4% of the research budget is freely available to researchers in the Netherlands. In addition, the workload is very high and the ambitions with regard to small-scale education cannot be realised. The investments in infrastructure are also inadequate, according to the study. The recently announced investments in the National Programme for Education after the pandemic do not offer a solution for this: although these funds were created to cushion the impact of the pandemic, they do not resolve any structural problems.
PwC's study did not take into account the cuts made after 2018 and the significant increase in the number of students. The analyses also fail to consider the growing social and political ambitions in the areas of valorisation, innovation, lifelong learning, flexible studying and the continuation of world-class research.
More far-reaching ambitions for the Netherlands: to grow towards 3% GDP for research
The Netherlands is facing major social challenges and wishes to strengthen its structural earning capacity and society as a whole. The Knowledge Coalition previously issued a proposal for a 10-year stable growth of R&D and innovation spending in order to reach a 3% GDP level by 2030 and thus remain internationally competitive. The catch-up recommended by the PwC study is a much-needed first step in this regard. The VSNU and NFU are eager to enter into a dialogue with politicians on how to strengthen the basis of the Dutch knowledge sector, for example through the use of rolling grants for scientists and through sectoral plans that aim to enhance education, research and social impact.
You can find the letter to the House of Representatives and the underlying research reports here.