The board had originally planned to set up a branch campus in Yantai, where the university would provide programmes from the faculties of Spatial Sciences and Science & Engineering. But in January, a majority of the University Council announced that they would not be voting for the plans as they then were.
Over the past few months, the board has talked to the College of Deans, the RUG’s Supervisory Council, and the China Agricultural University (CAU), a memo to the University Council says. They have been looking for alternative ways of collaboration between Groningen and China. ‘China is aware of the current situation, and they have been very understanding’, the board’s Jan de Jeu said.
Studies with businesses
In consultation, they then decided to give the individual faculties the opportunity to set up projects together with the CAU in Yantai. These include studies involving businesses, double degree programmes, and the so-called 3+1 programmes. The latter involve the RUG providing educational programmes in China, with students taking at least a quarter of their courses in Groningen.
The Faculty of Science & Engineering (FSE) indicated previously that it was interested in setting up activities with interested programmes and research groups. The plans of the Spatial Sciences faculty are not yet known. ‘We still need to discuss it with the faculty council’, said council president Gerd Weitkamp.
According to the memo, other faculties are also free to enter into collaborations. ‘This will enable us to gradually acquire experience on a small scale which will potentially allow us in the future to present an improved and better-argued proposal for Transnational Education.’
This particular passage caused members of the University Council to react to the plans with mixed feelings. The council has a positive attitude towards small-scale collaborative projects in China. But some of the members worry that the door to a branch campus is still open to such a degree that the entire decision-making process will start all over again.
‘It looks like steps are being taken to set up a branch campus in Yantai after all’, Jasper Been with student faction DAG remarked. ‘What’s wrong with sticking to the individual projects?’ Denise Mensonides, with Lijst Calimero, argued for clear agreements on what should and shouldn’t happen. ‘On paper, to document it for our council successors. It’s not that I don’t trust the board per se, but I am a little concerned about the future.’
De Jeu said that a proposal for a new branch campus is not necessarily the objective of this follow-up. ‘It’s not up to the current board to put a new proposal. But we can’t rule out the possibility of there one day being a plan that the council will approve of. It’s important to us to not completely reject that option, because then we wouldn’t be able to continue working together.’
Regardless, both the University Council and the minister of Education will have to approve any possible new proposal.