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Risk Management

At the university, risks are events that are deliberately managed. This does not mean that all risks are avoided; instead, they are considered in relation to the strategy and objectives of the university. It is sometimes necessary to take risks in a deliberate and controlled manner, while deliberately avoiding or mitigating other risks. Risk management is an integral part of the planning and control cycle. In 2021, steps will be taken to deal consciously and deliberately with risks within the organisation as well as to transparently identify the opportunities arising from external trends and developments. The approach developed for this purpose is shown in the diagram below.

In 2020 and 2021, the faculties will translate the new university strategy, ‘A Significant Impact’, into a faculty strategy. Risk management is an essential element of this effort, which includes a dialogue about risk appetite within faculties and institutes.

The risks that faculties and institutes list in their 2020 annual reports are consolidated in the overview below. Where possible, those risks are linked to external developments and trends and to the strategic objectives as described in Our mission, vision, strategy and core values. The magnitude of the risks determines their order and is a result of the first risk management sessions in 2021. 

Objectives

1 Research

2 Education

3 Impact

Our research is of high academic and internationally recognised quality, based on cooperation and pushing the boundaries of our knowledge.

Quality, commitment and personal contact in our education ensure that students develop into critically-minded graduates who go on to take up responsible positions in society.

We take a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach that allows us to contribute to solving social issues.

 

4 People

5 Facilities

6 Finances

We are an inclusive university where staff and students inspire each other, and we invest in the development of staff and students.

Our campus is a sustainable place that invites you to study, work, collaborate and meet.

We are committed to maintaining a strong and balanced financial position to ensure the continuity of education and research, including support.

External trends and developments

Technological factors

Employees and students are increasingly working on various networks from different locations. This new way of working, combined with new technological developments, makes the dependence on ICT facilities ever greater.
The acceleration plan for educational innovation with ICT describes technological developments and the opportunities they offer for the digitisation of higher education. In research, the discussion about ‘open science’ and ‘open access’ as a standard plays a role. This concerns the (re)use of data, the storage of data and the costs involved, as well as completely new output and publication models.

Risk

Control measure

Trend

Objective

Cyber risks and technological development
Because of cyber risks, there is a chance that the reliability and/or continuity of ICT facilities and data could be damaged, systems could be hacked, or the website could be unavailable. This may threaten the continuity of the primary process, and users could be negatively affected.
Another risk is that the university cannot support education and research with the newest ICT resources.

The university continuously invests in improving the reliability, security and continuity of its automated systems. In 2020, both internal and external audits were carried out in the field of information security. The results of these audits have been translated into an information security programme for which €1.6 million per year has been allocated.
In addition, extra money has been made available for educational innovation with the aid of ICT, ICT investments, awareness raising, research data management and open science.

5, 6

External trends and developments

Competition on the job market

Attracting and retaining sufficient competent staff is essential for achieving the goals in the field of education and research. However, competition on the job market is fierce.

Risk

Control measure

Trend

Objective

Not enough talented staff
The inability to attract or retain talented academic staff poses great risks to both education and research.

The university invests in various programmes, such as the Radboud Excellence Initiative, to attract and retain talented academic staff. Resources are also available to help employees develop themselves. In the coming years, the university will invest heavily in sustainable employability and in increasing the number of academic staff, partly through the use of study financing resources and better budgeting of expected government funding. In addition, a widely supported plan to reduce workload has been drawn up. The Executive Board asks that a lot of attention be paid to this.
The board received reports about social safety in 2020. This has been communicated and an external investigation was launched. The conclusions of that investigation resulted in measures. In addition, an intensive dialogue has been initiated in which all sections of the university can express their views on what is considered normal behaviour. This process is being guided by TwynstraGudde. The team of confidential advisors has been expanded and centrally organised.

4

Workload, well-being and social safety
The well-being of staff members within the organisation is extremely important for attracting and retaining talented staff.

 

External trends and developments

Political factors

The 2019 Strategic Agenda for Higher Education and Research, entitled Houdbaar voor de toekomst (‘Sustainable for the future’), provides guidance for the Rutte III government, especially for education over the next five years. In addition, there is the National Research Agenda and the recent coalition agreement. There will be a review of the funding system. Also, House of Representatives elections will take place in March 2021. The Investment Agenda of the Knowledge Coalition and the Strategic Plan of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) are also relevant.

Demographic factors

The projected regional shrinkage is a demographic factor for the university. While Statistics Netherlands (2019) projects that the total population of the Netherlands will continue to grow to 19.0 million in 2039, the number of young people is decreasing. In our primary recruitment area (Gelderland, North Brabant, Limburg) there will be a slight to strong decrease in the number of young people until 2030. On the other hand, there will be an international influx of students and the flow from higher vocational education to a research university (HBO to WO). The number of international students at Radboud University is on an upward trend.

Risk

Control measure

Trend

Objective

Fluctuations in education and research funding
Changing political priorities and demographic factors (decline in the number of young people in the primary recruitment area) create the risk that direct government funding will decrease. This may put pressure on the financial continuity and quality of education, research, and social impact. That risk is increased by the fact that projects financed by funding from government agencies and contract funding also rely on direct government funding (matching).

The university uses a financial (multi-year) strategy in which expected developments in government funding are incorporated in a timely and prudent manner. The internal distribution model is broadly in line with the model from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and it leads to annual adjustments in the internal distribution of resources to the units. In addition, the university contributes to active representation of university interests via VSNU and is committed to internationalisation and to making Master’s programmes more attractive, thereby reversing the net outflow from Master’s programmes into net inflow into Master’s programmes.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

External trends and developments

Integrity

(Academic) integrity is essential for high-quality research and education.

Risk

Control measure

Trend

Objective

Damage to reputation
Breaches of (academic) integrity risk damaging the university’s reputation and image, making it harder to attract students, researchers and financial resources.

The university’s quality assurance system for research and education ensures periodic monitoring of the quality of research and education in connection with national inspections. This is yet to be developed for impact.
 The university implements the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, which is also embedded in various internal agreements and regulations.
Integrity is addressed at all levels of the organisation and there are annual integrity meetings with specific themes.

1, 2, 3, 4, 6

External trends and developments

Economic/competitive factors

The importance of connecting with society is increasing. In education, civil society is having an increasing influence on the content of degree programmes. In research, the emphasis is increasingly on cooperation in public-private consortia in order to attract funding from government agencies and contract funding. The university is being asked to make the social impact of research and innovation more visible.

Risk

Control measure

Trend

Objective

Decrease in research funding
As a result of increasing competition (particularly in the SSH domain), there is a risk that funding from government agencies and contract funding will decrease. This could put a strain on the quality and quantity of research.

In addition to good, broad-based grant support, the university strengthens its recruitment power by opting for a limited number of inter- and multidisciplinary strategic themes that tie in with national and international (EU) social priorities. Our scholars are supported in their efforts by research support officers in the faculties and at the central level.

1, 3, 6

Maintaining research facilities
Due to insufficient long-term (>10 years) research funding, there is a risk that the university will not be adequately able to continue with high-quality research facilities such as the HFLM-Felix and the scanning facilities at the Donders Institute, thereby jeopardising the quality of research.

The university ensures that large grants, such as gravitation and roadmap programmes, include long-term funding for large-scale infrastructure. The research institutes also make a multi-year budget, which includes major investments in equipment.

1, 3, 5, 6

Collaborations
On the one hand, there is the risk that the university will miss opportunities in the area of education and research because of insufficient connection to national and international partnerships. While there are some strong partnerships between universities in the Netherlands, Radboud University collaborates with other universities in different ways.
On the other hand, there is the risk that incidents may occur or parties may go bankrupt, causing damage to the university’s reputation and finances.

The university participates in various international collaborations such as through The Guild network and more specifically with a select number of universities such as the University of Glasgow. The university is exploring a thematic collaboration within the EU’s European Universities initiative.
On a national level, the university cooperates with other universities and is active regionally through, among others, The Economic Board, Health Valley and Novio Tech Campus. In 2020, the university strengthened its cooperation with Maastricht University. Furthermore, the university adheres to its own internal codes of conduct and regulations to minimise the risk of financial and reputational damage.

1, 2, 3, 6

Quality of education and research
The university has to deal with national and international competition. This concerns the position in the selection guide, rankings, and attracting the best students and staff members. The risk is that the university might not score highly in this competitive struggle, which may put pressure on the financial continuity and on the quality of education, research, and social impact.

The university wants to remain an appealing employer and is investing in an attractive green campus with facilities for living, sports and culture.
The university makes the Radboud Research Facilities available to small and medium-sized enterprises, innovative companies, start-ups and governments.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

External trends and developments

COVID-19

In 2020, the university and the rest of the world were confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic. Necessary measures taken by the government to mitigate the spread of the virus had far-reaching consequences for the university.

Risk

Control measure

Trend

Objective

Pandemics
With COVID-19, the university runs risks such as: students and staff falling ill and possibly dying, a decrease in the quality of education and research due to working from home and online education, increased work pressure due to changes in timetables and work activities, a decrease in the well-being of both students and staff due to the effects on daily life of measures taken, increased costs and a decrease in income.

It is expected in this budget that measures and restrictions from 2020 will also (partly) apply in 2021. The university follows the RIVM health guidelines. There are measures to facilitate and support online education and assessment. In-person education is offered within the applicable guidelines. There are additional funds for extending employment contracts when delays have occurred due to COVID-19. The workload is a standard item on the board agenda and the university is making money available for workload reduction. The university has a strong financial position. Given the large amount of lump-sum government financing and the liquidity and solvency position in the short and medium term, no liquidity problems are expected, and the continuity of the university as a whole is not in danger.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

External trends and developments

Accommodations

In the coming years, the university will strongly invest in maintenance, renovation, and new construction of accommodations.

Risk

Control measure

Trend

Objective

Property Development
The risk is that property projects might cost more than budgeted and/or take longer than planned and/or not (fully) comply with functional demands. As a result, (intended) users of the property may not be optimally supported, which means that the quality of education, research and social impact could come under pressure.

The university has clear financial frameworks within which the planning and construction of real estate takes place, as well as long-term investment plans (MIP). Regular evaluations take place to identify learning points.
The accommodation vision and update of the multi-year investment forecast (MIP) will be completed in early 2021.

1, 2, 3, 5, 6