Dear Rector Van der Zwaan

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Vanuit Cambridge wordt de rector gevraagd zijn wensen voor selectie van studenten voor de UU financieel te onderbouwen: What is your vision for when the government reduces your funding by another, let us say, 50 percent compared to current levels Rector Van der Zwaan?

With much excitement I read your column on how to combine a more selective system for Dutch students whilst keeping higher education (including HBO) accessible to all who are properly equipped to do so.

The one thing I’m missing here is a vision – a clear outline of where you want Utrecht University to go. Do you wish for it to remain publicly funded, or privately funded? Where do you expect the funding situation to go?

Of course your column seems exploratory, yet I wonder how you can form a strategic vision without any financial freedom to do so. Close to all your educational funding comes from the Dutch government – a government that will follow international trends and thus subsidize education less by the year.

So what do you wish to deal with? The Dutch public is likely not willing to pay for a university that is only selectively open to applicants, as you suggest might be a good idea. Perhaps a middle way would be to provide full government funding for parents of students with an income less than a specific amount and for the remainder to have to be supported by other or their own means.

The only way you can really form your own vision – one you could reasonably execute without the government interfering – is one that is mostly or fully privately funded. Cambridge colleges have an annual endowment of 7.5 billion euros and colleges also hold billions of private investment funds. Trinity College, for example, owns the O2 arena in London among over 1.4 billion pounds worth of other investments and got affluent by developing a port on its lands. I don’t see this happening in Holland anytime soon – plainly as our university system is so far not really private with the exception being Nyenrode.

The question I really wish to ask you is: What is your vision for when the government reduces your funding by another, let us say, 50 percent compared to current levels Rector Van der Zwaan? Considering international trends, this is no longer pessimism.

Rector Bert van der Zwaan schreef een reactie op het verhaal van Thomas. Dat is hier te lezen. 

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