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In the coming three years (2018-2020), the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences faces a decline in income due to the significant drop in student numbers between 2012 and 2016.

The Faculty therefore has to reduce its spending, while continuing to deliver high-quality teaching and research. Read more about the Faculty budget. In this message, we will focus on the situation in the Social Sciences domain.

Social Sciences

In 2017, it became apparent that the Social Sciences domain faces a budget deficit of €1.7 million for 2018. This figure includes an expected shortfall of €1.2 million, which was needed to invest in the development of bilingual Bachelor’s programmes (Political Science has already made this move, Sociology will follow in 2018-2019. The timing for other programmes is still being looked into). Although it has been agreed to use our financial reserves to continue to invest in this area, we need to reduce our spending by at least €500,000 in 2018 and in the years to come.

Sharing thoughts for change

During November and December 2017, we organised various meetings with staff. Together we discussed possible measures to reduce our budget deficit for 2018 without compromising on the quality of our teaching and research. As an outcome of these discussions, the directors of education, research directors and department chairs (i.e., the Social Sciences Board) have agreed to implement a number of temporary, short-term measures in 2018. At the same time, we are working on proposals for the long term to ensure the financial viability of providing high-quality teaching and research.

Temporary measures in 2018

The agreed measures for 2018 fall into four categories: general (e.g., ICT and training costs for staff), research (e.g., research programme coordination hours), teaching support (e.g., reducing the time available for marketing and communication), and teaching. This latter category consists of the following measures:

  • Hiring less external staff for teaching and supervision. This does not mean there will be less teaching or supervision, it simply means these activities will mostly be undertaken by our own, internal staff.
  • Fewer coordination tasks in our programmes. This is unlikely to be visible to students, as these tasks mostly take place ‘behind the scenes’.
  • Using teaching rooms from 9:00 to 19:00. This is already UvA policy, which we will now implement more fully to ensure we use our reserved, and as such already paid-for, teaching rooms as much as possible.
  • More efficient assessment of student application files.
  • More cost-effective and efficient organisation of our graduation ceremonies, whilst making sure they remain festive occasions.

Towards long-term viability

Over the next few months, we will continue to engage with staff and students to discuss the proposals for and implementation of long-term measures. We will continue to design clever, didactically sound ways of teaching that ensure our students achieve the knowledge and skills they need upon graduation, while simultaneously working within a realistic and healthy budget.

Students who are interested in these or other teaching-related issues are encouraged to get in touch with the FSR, their Programme Committee, study associations, the student members of the College and Graduate School Boards of Studies, the programme directors, or the directors of education in our domain. We would be happy to answer any questions, and invite you to help us to reflect critically on our programmes and policies.

Brian Burgoon, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research
Annette Freyberg-Inan, Graduate School of Social Sciences
Giselinde Kuipers, Dept of Sociology
Ton Nijhuis, Dept of Political Science
Robert Pool, Dept of Anthropology
Johan Post, Dept of Human Geography, Planning and International Development
Richard van der Wurff, College of Social Sciences

Faculty budget 2018-2021 (Dutch only) Faculty budget - explanation (Dutch only)