Campus 08 July 2022

VU Amsterdam 25 million euros richer than expected

VU Amsterdam ended last year with a surplus of 25 million euros, mainly due to extra government funding, but also because the pandemic caused less financial damage than expected.

With the pandemic and the introduction of the new MARS ICT landscape, the year 2021 was full of turbulence for VU Amsterdam. But despite these challenges, the university still managed to achieve a positive financial result of 25.1 million euros. This is evident from the annual report for 2021, which is now available online [< link]. Most of that surplus comes from extra contributions that VU Amsterdam (and other universities) received from the government, which amounted to 41 million euros in total.

For example, VU Amsterdam received ‘advance programme funds’ to improve its education as well as funding from the National Education Programme to combat the negative effects of the pandemic. Since not all of this money was spent last year, it contributed to the university’s generous surplus.

But there were other notable financial windfalls. For instance, the university had counted on spending 8.2 million euros on the pandemic, but the actual amount spent by the faculties was 2 million euros below budget. The costs of the service departments, on the other hand, were a million euros higher due to extra spending on security.

Money in the bank

VU Holding, under which the university’s private companies reside, also achieved a better result than expected: 0.2 million euros, mainly due to the profits made by Taalcentrum-VU (which offers language courses and translation services) and the VU-VUmc parking company, which did not do as badly as expected during the pandemic.

VU Amsterdam also had lower depreciation charges in 2021, partly because the W&N Building, which should have been demolished long ago, is still in use.

The spin-off Lumicks, a high-tech medical company, has split off from the university, and the settlement of the licence agreement earned VU Amsterdam 0.7 million. The faculties also collectively earned 10.1 million euros more than expected; the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (which offers dental care) and the School of Business and Economics (successful in the field of post-graduate education) both did particularly well. Students from other universities who took a secondary subject or minor at VU Amsterdam also brought in extra money, as did the ongoing collaborations with the University of Amsterdam in various fields.


Windfalls in interest income, VAT refunds, released reserves and the like all boosted the positive result for the university, but there were setbacks too. The [MARS debacle], for example, has cost the VU 5.3 million euros more than budgeted. First, the launch of the new ICT system was postponed, accounting for a setback of 1 million euros. Then the whole machinery came to a standstill because staff could no longer access the systems, meaning they no longer had an overview of the departments they were in charge of, their finances, the registration of new students, etc. Repairing the system cost an additional 4.3 million euros in 2021, and the meter is still running in 2022..

Due to the large surplus that VU Amsterdam booked last year, which it saw coming halfway through the year, the university can absorb a negative result of 5.9 million euros in this year’s budget. Even though VU Amsterdam had also budgeted a negative result (of 4.8 million euros) for 2021, the annual result eventually turned out positive. Depending on what happens on Budget Day, and what the university can expect in terms of additional government funding, a more positive annual result could also be possible this year.

Peter Breedveld
IMAGE: Fabian Blank via Unsplash


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