Three student associations lose part of their board subsidies

UVSV and USC side by side on a bus during the UIT parade. Photo: DUB

Every three year, the institutions check whether the associations meet the so-called 80-20 rule. The rule entails that 80 percent of the members of an association have to be students at either the UU or the HU. If they meet the requirement, they’ll receive financial support by means of board subsidies. In 2018, associations had to send in their member administration to the university to be checked. It turns out that not all associations met the requirements. They were, however, given the opportunity to ensure the 80-20 rule was met after all. In March 2019, student associations USC, UVSV and Biton, cycling association De Domrenner, and basketball association SBU were told they’ll have to surrender at least part of their board subsidies because they still did not meet the requirements. After this, they were given one final chance to meet the 80 percent rule before October 1st to prevent their subsidies being cut. Basketball association SBU did not take this chance, and will therefore lose its board subsidies and accreditation.

Institutions more lenient
The associations that didn’t make it are USC, UVSV, and cycling association De Domrenner. However, instead of having to surrender all their subsidies, the university and university of applied sciences decided to be lenient. They decided thusly because the boards of both institutions are considering making the rule itself less strict this year. The institutions see that since the introduction of the Bachelor-Master system, students may move around more often instead of staying with one single institution, but they do decide to remain a member of their association in Utrecht.

The more lenient deal means that the associations will keep 100 percent of the (already cut) board subsidies this year. For next year and the year after that (2021-2022), their subsidies will be reduced by 10 percent each year. The associations will keep their institutional accreditation when, in December, the HU and UU councils agree to a new policy framework.

Clean-up of member list
At the last moment, Biton was able to meet the 80-20 rule. “At Biton, we dropped from 450 to around 300 members,” says president Julia Knol. “To meet the requirements, we’ve had to remove a huge number of members. These are, for instance, members who’ve graduated and rarely show up at the association, but unfortunately, we’ve also had to cut active members for not being students at the HU or UU.” If Biton hadn’t done this, they would’ve had to give up their subsidies. “Then we wouldn’t just be losing a part of our subsidies each year.”

President Manon Arslanagic of women’s association UVSV confirms the association was unable to meet the 80-20 requirement. “After the news came in March, we immediately started working on cleaning up our member administration. After updating the educational information of our members, we found we still didn’t meet the requirements.” Arslanagic says UVSV thinks the 80-20 rule is a ‘logical consequence’ of receiving subsidies. “We’re also seeing that in the new policy framework, elements of this rule are being adjusted, as numerous associations are struggling to meet the requirement.”

Cycling association De Domrenner, says chairman Tom Schroot, used its second chance to keep its number of members at 100. “For the past two years, we’ve been fluctuating at around a hundred members. As a sports association, we receive subsidies and facilities from Olympos, but in order to receive those, we need to have at least a hundred members.” For De Domrenner, Schroot says, board subsidies aren’t the most important thing. Other facilities, such as a board room in Pnyx (in Dutch, ed.) and participating in the UIT, are of greater importance.

“Sending people away to meet the 80-20 rule is the last thing we’d do,” Schroot says. “Unfortunately, the 100-member requirement Olympos has and the 80-20 rule of the university clash with each other. We want to keep using the Olympos facilities, but we also want to receive accreditation from the university and university of applied sciences.”

Relaxing the rules
The boards of the university and the university of applied sciences have proposed relaxing the 80-20 rule. The new plan proposes a 75-25 rule for board subsidies, and 70-30 for accreditation. In December, the councils of the UU and HU will vote about the plan.

One consequence of the relaxation, says a spokesperson for Utrecht University, is that more associations can claim board subsidies: perhaps an increase of 12 percent. The budget will, however, remain the same at around 1 million euros.