Salary restrictions for professors and managers

Managers, advisors, and professors will soon join university directors in having their wages limited to those earned by government ministers.

Minister of the Interior Plasterk wants to expand the Senior Officials (Standards for Remuneration) Act. While the restrictions initially only applied to top executives, the standard will now apply to all employees in the public and semi-public sector. This year, the limit is set at 179,000 euros.

The act’s expansion is meant to ensure that people who do not officially hold a top position are no longer able to benefit from the act. However, exceptions are possible. Medical experts, for example, do not have to obey the wage limit because the ministry fears they would refuse to work in salaried employment. The ministers say that exceptions can also be made in individual cases, but they must be approved by the cabinet.

‘Organisations that perform public services that are financed by tax money or premiums have to pay socially acceptable wages’, according to the minister. ‘Setting a maximum remuneration standard contributes to people’s faith in and social support for public sectors.’


Previously, Plasterk stated that scientists would not be included in the wage standard. The statement was in response to criticism expressed by universities who fear that they will become less competitive in an international context if top scientists are not allowed to earn more.

VSNU, the Dutch Association of Universities, estimates that between 75 and 100 scientists earned more than 178,000 euros in 2015, which is what the salary for ministers was at the time. These scientists were supposedly highly sought-after domestic and foreign talents who would only work in the Netherlands ‘if they were promised proper research facilities and higher income befitting of their work’, according to the Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau.

Why Plasterk has chosen to restrict scientists’ wages after all has not been made known.


Late last year, it was decided that new educational directors could earn no more than 179,000 euros instead of the previous limit of 230,000 euros. The standard only applies to newly appointed directors or when an existing contract is extended. The current university directors at the RUG are excluded from the standard because they were appointed for a new term in 2014.

RUG president Sibrand Poppema earned a total of 229,013 euros in 2014. Vice president Jan de Jeu earned 199,120 euros and rector magnificus Elmer Sterken earned 195,865 euros.