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Report from the supervisory authority


This is the first annual report from Radboud University’s Supervisory Board (hereafter the board). Until and including 2020, the supervisory role at the university was filled by the board of Stichting Katholieke Universiteit (i.e., the Foundation Board). That foundation encompassed two organisations: Radboud University and Radboud university medical center. However, with effect from 2021, each organisation has now been incorporated into its own foundation: Radboud University remains part of Stichting Radboud Universiteit (name changed from Stichting Katholieke Universiteit in May 2021), and the new Radboud University Medical Center Foundation has been established for Radboud university medical center. As a result of this change and starting in 2021, Radboud University has its own Supervisory Board, consisting of five members. Some of the Supervisory Board members are former Foundation Board members while others have been newly appointed to the board

The change in the organisational set-up of Radboud University and the start of the new Supervisory Board meant that many matters had to be (re)arranged in a careful and orderly way. This took a considerable amount of time.

In addition, this year the board devoted a relatively large amount of time and attention to the university’s strategy, the subject of social safety, cyber security, the campus plan, and the recruitment of a new Executive Board member and the filling of vacancies on the board.

Like 2020, 2021 was strongly dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. The spread of the virus and the related government measures had a major impact on the studies, work and well-being of students and staff. The board is impressed by the way in which education and research continued as much as possible despite the many obstacles and limitations.

Radboud University complies with the main points of the Code for Good Governance in Dutch Universities. However, some areas of concern have been identified. These involve the governance of collaborations and associated legal entities, as well as the evaluation of the contribution various forms of cooperation make to the institution’s strategy, as set out in principle 8 of the Code. Attention will be paid to the relevant policy and guidelines in the near future. In addition, the whistle-blowers’ regulation (in accordance with 3.3. of the Code) still needs to be extended to students.

The membership composition of the Foundation Board adheres to the independence requirement for supervisory authorities as stated in the Code for Good Governance. Based on its composition, duties and powers, the board is of the opinion that it is able to exercise independent supervision. The members of the board have no direct interests in the university.

Composition of the Supervisory Board

On 1 January 2021, the Supervisory Board consisted of:

  • Prof. D. (Dymph) van den Boom

  • Prof. V.A.J. (Valerie) Frissen

  • P.A. (Paul) Morshuis RC

Van de Boom, Frissen and Morshuis were board members of the former Stichting Katholieke Universiteit (SKU) until 1 January 2021 and joined the Supervisory Board on that date.

M.W.L. van Vroonhoven MBA and Prof. J. Soeharno were appointed to the Supervisory Board on 20 January 2021. The board also appointed Van Vroonhoven from among its members as its chair. Prof. Soeharno resigned from the board on 14 March 2021 due to personal circumstances.

On 30 April 2021, Prof. M. van Vliet was appointed to the board.

As of 15 October 2021, Prof. Van den Boom resigned from the board due to consultancy activities elsewhere. In addition to her membership on the Radboud University Supervisory Board, Prof. Van den Boom had also been a member of Radboud university medical center’s Supervisory Board (from which she also resigned). As such, she had fulfilled the ‘linking pin’ position between the two Supervisory Boards, as stipulated in the Articles of Association. Prof. Frissen will fill that role from 11 March 2022.

  • M.W.L. (Merel) van Vroonhoven MBA, chair

  • Prof. V.A.J. (Valerie) Frissen

  • P.A. (Paul) Morshuis RC

  • Prof. M. (Mario) van Vliet

An overview of the secondary positions of the members of the board is included in the appendix: Overview of the secondary positions of the members of the Supervisory Board.

The Supervisory Board has two vacancies for the following portfolios:

  • Legal and Governance

  • Innovation, Valorisation and Digitalisation

Composition of the committees:

  • Audit Committee: P. Morshuis (chair) and M. van Vliet

  • Education and Research Committee: D. van den Boom (chair) and V. Frissen

  • Remuneration Committee: M. van Vroonhoven (chair), P. Morshuis and M. van Vliet

Meetings of the Supervisory Board

The Supervisory Board held seven regular meetings this year. In addition, there were two theme sessions in which specific topics were discussed, such as social safety, the development of the student population and the development of real estate (the campus plan).

The demerger of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center necessitated the amendment and approval of the articles of association of Stichting Katholieke Universiteit. In addition, the Supervisory Board regulations were adopted (including the regulations of the board’s committees) and various regulations were discussed. The Further Implementation Regulations and the Structure Regulations were adopted for information, the Common Regulations were approved, and the Cost Regulations were adopted. It was concluded that the regulations had been established in line with the Code for Good Governance in Dutch Universities.

The board approved the 2020 annual report and financial statements of Radboud University and Stichting Katholieke Universiteit.

Furthermore, based on a positive recommendation from the Audit Committee, the board discussed and approved the university’s annual plan and budget for 2022. In doing so, the board paid attention to issues such as the progress of the quality agreements, the use of reserves, investments, and the legitimate acquisition and effective use of resources.

Topics discussed in consultations with the Executive Board included social safety, the implementation of the university strategy, cybersecurity and workloads. With regard to social safety, the Executive Board informed the Supervisory Board about how it followed up on the reports from 2020 about a lack of social safety in one of the faculties. They also discussed the professionalisation of the team of confidential advisors and the Code of Conduct.

The Executive Board and the Supervisory Board discussed the progress made in implementing the university’s strategy several times. That strategy is ambitious and comprehensive. To ensure that it can properly carry out its duties, the Supervisory Board asked the Executive Board for objective, periodic progress reports on the implementation of the strategy. The first report was delivered and discussed at the end of 2021.

The Supervisory Board paid a working visit to the HFML-Felix research facility and the Radboud Academy. The subject of cybersecurity is high on the agenda, partly in response to the hacks that have occurred in the higher education sector. In the coming years, the university will invest in recruiting additional staff in order to reduce the workload of its staff members. The university will use funds from its own reserves for this, thereby taking an advance on the resources from the reference estimates that will gradually increase in the period from 2022 to 2026. The Supervisory Board also visited the Baby & Child Research Center  to learn about interesting developments in and results of the research being carried out there.

Supervisory Board committees

1.    Audit Committee

The Audit Committee met five times in 2021. The external auditor attended all the meetings.

In the spring, the committee discussed the 2020 annual report and financial statements of Radboud University and the 2020 management report and financial statements of Stichting Katholieke Universiteit. The Audit Committee endorses the move towards integrated reporting that was initiated with the 2020 annual report. In addition, in keeping with Radboud University’s strategy, the Audit Committee drew attention to the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and the potential added value for the university. The auditor’s report was reviewed in the presence of the auditor. Both the process of drawing up the annual report and financial statements and the auditor’s report show that the financial processes on which the reporting is based are in order. The Audit Committee advised the Supervisory Board to approve the annual report and financial statements.

In the autumn, the Audit Committee discussed Radboud University’s annual plan and budget for 2022 (including the multi-year plan). Important discussion points included the use of reserves to attract additional staff in order to reduce the workload, the use of the NPO resources, the financing of top research facilities, and the main risks in the budget and the multi-year estimate. In addition, based on the understanding of the direct link between strategy, actions and required resources as well as the inventory of risks, the annual plan and the budget for 2022 were presented to the Supervisory Board for approval with a positive recommendation. The management letter from the auditor was also discussed. This letter states that the internal control measures (including the general IT control measures) are of a sufficient level. During the discussion of the management letter, risk management, fraud risk management and cybersecurity were discussed with the auditor. The fraud risk management process in particular has room for improvement.

Twice a year, the Audit Committee discusses the progress of the quality agreements. This is a fixed part of the planning and control cycle and occurs at the same time as the discussion of the annual plan and the budget, and during the discussion of the annual report. For this discussion, the Audit Committee receives an extensive report about each faculty’s progress on the quality agreements. This report is also shared with the full Supervisory Board. In 2021, particular attention was paid to how the participational bodies were involved in implementing the plans and making any changes to them. The guidelines for reporting on the quality agreements in the annual report were also discussed. The Audit Committee notes that the implementation of the plans is progressing well and that the participational bodies are sufficiently involved in both the implementation and any changes to the plans. Most of the changes are related to external factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that a great deal was invested in online education earlier in the plan period.

Other topics discussed by the Audit Committee in its meetings this year included the further development of the campus, IT developments (including cybersecurity), the risk management policy, (progress) reports by the Internal Audit Service, the auditor’s control plan, the multi-year investment forecast, the new internal audit charter and the periodic financial update. With regard to the developments of the campus, the committee specifically asked for a stress test upon delivery of the campus plan. This has been picked up by the Executive Board and will be discussed with the Audit Committee in early 2022.

PWC Accountants NV was appointed as the external auditor for the period from 2016 to 2019, with the option to extend for four consecutive years. That extension has now occurred.

In addition to the above, the Audit Committee also conducted a self-evaluation. It concluded that the various aspects were well covered in the five meetings in 2021 and the discussions were constructive. This resulted in changing the formal Audit Committee meeting frequency from three to five times per year. The subject of knowledge security will also be placed on the agenda.

2.    Education and Research Committee

In its meetings, the committee regularly discussed the pandemic’s effects on education and research and the measures the university had taken to enable education and research to continue as much as possible. Issues discussed in this regard included the frameworks for education and assessment for the 2021–2022 academic year, the use of Proctorio in digital assessment, the application of and experiences with online education and the use of NPO resources. Attention was also paid to the guidance and well-being of students.

In addition, the committee monitored the university’s quality assurance system. The committee discussed the results of various educational and research inspections and the introduction of the new Strategy Evaluation Protocol (SEP) for the research institutes. This protocol focuses more on the content-related narrative than on an assessment with scores and quantities.

Other topics discussed in the meetings included the role and development of the Radboud Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC) and the Sustainability in Education programme. With this, the university places sustainability at the core of our education. All students come into contact with sustainability-related issues in their own discipline. Students who want more have access to a broad and multidisciplinary range of courses, also at other faculties.

For the national theme of Recognition and Rewards, Radboud University has set up a committee consisting of members from all faculties with various positions and age categories. The chosen focal points within the theme and the committee’s activities were discussed with the rector and the chair of the Executive Committee.

The committee also discussed the interfaculty collaboration programme that the Executive Board launched a few years ago. With this programme, the Executive Board aims to stimulate and facilitate collaboration between faculties and disciplines.

Finally, the committee discussed the City Deal Kennis Maken project. This city deal started in 2017 and there are now 21 deals spread across the country. Radboud University partnered with HAN University of Applied Sciences and the Municipality of Nijmegen in this project. ROC Nijmegen also joined the project in 2019. The project involves students from various educational institutions and study programmes working together to solve problems in their own city.

3.    Remuneration Committee

The Remuneration Committee did not meet separately during the year under review.

In the meeting of the Supervisory Board on 20 January 2020, the board ratified the remuneration for the year 2021 in accordance with the decision of the board of Stichting Katholieke Universiteit on 11 December 2020.

The Remuneration Committee conducted the annual appraisal interviews with the members of the Executive Board in 2021, prior to which input was gathered from all members of the Supervisory Board. The committee reported its findings to the Supervisory Board.

The financial statements include an overview of compensations based on expense claims submitted by individual members of the Executive Board. An overview of the 2021 expenses from invoices and expense claims from the Executive Board has been included on the website.

Consultation with the chairs of the Supervisory Boards of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center

The chairs of both Supervisory Boards met once in 2021. The topics discussed included the state of affairs regarding the demerger, the filling of the linking pin position in both Supervisory Boards and the frequency of meetings.

The Supervisory Board’s role as an employer

In April, the Supervisory Board bade farewell to W. (Wilma) de Koning-Martens. As vice chair of the Executive Board for almost eight years, she made an important contribution to the development of our university. We thank her for her commitment and the inspiring way she fulfilled her role as an administrator.

(Marijke) Pe was appointed Secretary to the Supervisory Board as of 1 September 2021. She succeeded G. (Gerard) van Assem, who we would like to thank for his support as secretary to the board.

At the end of 2021, the board appointed A. (Agnes) Muskens as a new member of the Executive Board. She took up her duties on 1 January 2022.

Contacts with stakeholders

The Supervisory Board has consultations and talks with various stakeholders inside and outside the organisation. The pandemic limited the number of (in-person) contacts during the year under review. A delegation from the board attended the consultative meeting between the central representative bodies and the Executive Board, during which the university’s annual plan and budget were discussed. The board also held several informal meetings with the praesidium of the participational bodies. Board members were also present at the opening of the academic year and at the university’s Dies Natalis celebration. The chair of the board participated in the national meeting of the chairs of the Supervisory Boards of Dutch universities.