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Secret meeting with China


RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens confirms that RUG president Sibrand Poppema had a secret audience with a Chinese vice minister of education and Dutch Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker on Tuesday. What they discussed is confidential.
‘I have to say honestly that I only heard about it fairly late myself, and I can’t say anything about what was discussed there’, Deekens says. ‘It is confidential, and that is all that I can say.’


The meeting was part of a Sino-Dutch Education Policy Dialogue held on Tuesday in The Hague. ‘That was a broader meeting where not only the RUG was present, but Poppema is involved because of our plans in Yantai. It was not officially a part of it, but it’s a sort of networking event between Chinese representatives and the Ministry of Education, and Poppema is a part of that because of our Yantai plans. It wasn’t organised by the RUG, but through the Ministry of Education.’

Job Slok, a spokesperson of education minister Jet Bussemaker, said yesterday via email that the Ministry is not playing a role in the RUG’s plans directly. ‘Education, Culture and Science is not a party to the agreements with the Chinese campus.’

Playing a role

Deekens reiterates that. ‘The ministry is not playing a role beyond the fact that they are the regulators and they will have to assess our plans in terms of Dutch law, and that’s why we’re having conversations with them. That is their involvement, but they’re not directly involved in setting up the branch campus.’


Deekens was able to provide more information about the content of the meeting last week. ‘This was a planned meeting between minister Bussemaker and her Chinese colleague in the context of the Sino Dutch Education Policy Dialogue’, Deekens says.

‘In addition to these two ministers, 20 civil servants and representatives from applied science universities and high schools were also present. During this meeting, the ministers discussed the collaboration with China, in particular with regard to the applied science and high school programmes.’

‘Poppema was invited by Minister Bussemaker to join in connection with the RUG’s plans to open a branch campus in China because it is a current initiative from a Dutch higher education institution to collaborate with a Chinese partner.’

‘Minister Bussemaker has spoken positively about the RUG’s plans to her Chinese colleague and has made known her intention to make a governmental decree to make it possible to pursue full programmes abroad. This is important for us because it demonstrates that we are supported by the Dutch ministry.’


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