Cash-strapped universities sound the alarm

Flemish universities are sounding the alarm. For years their budgets have not kept step with growing student numbers. The daily De Tijd reports that in order to guarantee quality they have to call on their reserves. The prospect of higher tuition fees is not a miracle cure the universities say.

The number of Flemish students has risen by a quarter in only five years, while staff numbers have only increased by 4%. The budget for working costs hasn't kept step with student numbers.

The universities say that quality is now under threat. At Ghent University Marc Declerq and his two assistants teach 1,500 first year law and economics students. He says organising oral exams is sheerly impossible. Due to the cuts the infrastructure is outdated and too small.

The universities are using money from their reserves raised by the sale of real estate and generated by research. They say that by 2019 they will have gone through their reserves. Higher tuition fees won't solve the problem as they only make up 4% of the universities' income.