Finance and Accommodations Research Committee: ‘UvA in good financial health’
‘The UvA was financially healthy in 2006 and is financially healthy in 2016’: that is the conclusion of the Finance and Accommodations Research Committee in its final report, published on Friday, 24 June.
The report was presented to Geert ten Dam and Hans Amman, the president and vice-president of the UvA’s Executive Board respectively, and to René Hulst, on behalf of the contact group which commissioned the report. The committee has issued a positive opinion on the UvA’s accommodation plans and operational management, but emphasised that, despite the University’s healthy financial position, there are some important points that require attention.
‘We are pleased that the committee has concluded that the UvA is financially healthy, and this confirms our own impression. And we agree that there are certain points that require attention. It’s good that the committee is keeping us focused’, Geert ten Dam commented in her first reaction, during the presentation of the report. ‘Of course we still need to look at the findings properly.’
The committee’s investigation took six months and forms part of the ten-point plan issued on 10 March 2015.
Need to stay alert
The UvA’s annual report and framework letter show that a number of measures have improved the University’s financial position in the past year. (You can find the Dutch versions of these documents here – English translations will follow). The UvA’s assets have increased during the past years and the quality and state of its buildings have improved. The committee did point to the need to stay alert. ‘They’re right about that, we agree that we need to stay alert. The main issue the committee has singled out is the investments surrounding the City Centre Campus’, Ten Dam commented.
Transparency and support
The committee emphasised the importance of transparency, solidarity and broad support for policy within the organisation. Hans Amman: ‘The picture that emerges from the report is that we’re doing well financially and technically, but that we don’t always show this properly, which is needed to achieve policy that has broad support. We see it as our task to make sure we take this on together with the faculties. In the past year, we have already taken a number of concrete steps in this direction together with the deans. For example, in the process leading up to the formulation of the framework letter we included more time for consultation, advice and discussion. We publish everything online and are using infographics to make what can be rather difficult subject matter more accessible. This also applies to the joint discussion about revising the allocation model, for which we are also organising meetings and collecting input.’
Amman: ‘The committee has made a number of relevant remarks and recommendations about the allocation model. I hope that, based on the conclusions and recommendations of the committee, our students and staff will submit proposals to the working group for the allocation model, so these can be taken on board.’ Consultative meetings about the allocation model will take place on Tuesday, 28 June and Thursday, 30 June, and proposals can be submitted until 15 July.
The committee concluded that the University’s accommodations plans have been carried out reasonably effectively overall, but also points out a number of risks, especially relating to the City Centre Campus. Building ownership brings long-term financial responsibilities and risks with it. The UvA’s internal guidelines and processes are designed to manage these risks.
Questions about effectiveness of hedge
In its final report, the committee points to risks relating to the effectiveness of the hedge intended to protect the UvA’s finances against losses. Amman: ‘Every six months, we look at this very carefully with the accountant, so this is not really a concern we share. But we will study the relevant sections of the report closely and take another critical look at our portfolio.’