University Council against Yantai [ UPDATE ]

A majority of the University Council is still against the plans to start a branch campus in Yantai. The RUG’s Chinese expansion is in real danger of falling through.
By Christien Boomsma, Thereza Langeler, and Rob Siebelink / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

The University Council’s consent is necessary before the minister of Education, Culture, and Science (OCW) will approve the plans. But this consent will not be forthcoming, the Personnel Faction, Lijst Calimero, and Democratische Academie Groningen (DAG) now say.

After months of consultations, they cannot agree with the plans. Together, the three parties hold sixteen of the twenty-four council seats. ‘As far as we’re concerned, the Yantai matter is closed definitively’, Lijst Calimero leader Henk-Jan Wondergem told the UK.

The Board of Directors is saddened that there is no University Council majority in favour of the Yantai proposal, the RUG said in a statement. This week, the Board will meet with the Council and other parties, such as the faculties involved, the Supervisory Council, the ministry of Education, and the Chinese partners

Too many doubts

According to Wondergem, the quality of education was the deciding issue. ‘There are too many doubts about it to support the plans with a clean conscience. Additionally, the advantages to RUG students do not outweigh the risks. And there is too much uncertainty about academic freedom on campus.’

Casper Albers says that the Personnel Faction, which is the largest in the council with nine seats, has not been convinced over the past few months. ‘When it turned out that Calimero was against the plans, we asked the people in our own faction about how they would vote on the plans’, he says. While one or two people were still uncertain, the majority was clear: they would vote against.


‘If there had been a convincing plan, I would’ve been able to agree to it’, says Personnel Faction chair Bart Beijer. ‘But it’s getting increasingly difficult to support.’ The main issue Albers has is that the great advantage of having a branch campus has not been proven. ‘UGY is supposed to lead to demonstrably better education in Groningen. I just didn’t see that.’ He also has doubt about the amount of support among students and staff.

Over the past few months, Calimero also got the feeling that support among university staff is too small. The party feels that there is not enough money for that in the budget and doubts whether the quality of new people will be sufficient.

Academic freedom, or the lack thereof in China, is also an important argument, the University Council factions say. ‘The fact that a party secretary from the Chinese communist party would be on campus has certainly not helped our faith in academic freedom’, says Wondergem with Lijst Calimero.


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