University College in Leeuwarden ‘not dependent on UCG’
Koster referred to the ‘commotion’ that occurred last week when it was announced by RUG president Sibrand Poppema at a University Council committee meeting that the Leeuwarden UC would only begin once there was more than enough demand for the existing UC Groningen.
‘Of course that is remarkable, since we already had a start date of 1 September 2017 in our agreement, so that was unacceptable to us’, says Koster
The alderperson said that following a discussion with the board of directors of the RUG, new terms have been set for the Leeuwarden location. The current conditions seem to indicate that the Frisian side of the project is really taking the reigns.
‘The agreement is that UC Leeuwarden will not be a branch of UCG but rather an independent location with an independent ‘broad bachelor’ structure instead of a liberal arts and sciences theme. That also means an independent accreditation has to be requested so that we can begin on 1 September, 2017. The dependence on the UCG has been done away with.’
The newly formulated structure should address the two main concerns of the University Council: direct competition between UCG and the UC in Leeuwarden is no longer an issue, and the function assessment (doelmatigheidstoets) will only pertain to the Leeuwarden plans with no connection to the UC Groningen.
‘This means that we do not have to wait for the UC Groningen to be a success, which has not happened yet. You have to assume that it will go better this year, but we did not want to have to rely on that happening.’
According to Koster, the board of directors of the RUG only realised the potential problems of hitching the Leeuwarden UC’s fate to the existing UC Groningen this week. The function assessment takes demand for an academic programme into consideration. Given the stagnant registration numbers at UC Groningen, which have remained at around 30 students per cohort thus far, that would bring the chances of approval for the Leeuwarden UC into question.
‘Initially, there were 135 students who were enrolled at the University College Groningen. That was more than enough to ensure that there wouldn’t be a problem. The number of students who actually wound up registering lagged behind, and that is why the situation has changed in the past month.’
RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens says that dropping the liberal arts and sciences theme does not mean that the Leeuwarden plans would no longer classify as a University College. ‘It will remain an independent UC in Leeuwarden. University College is the form wherein the education is given, and it is not synonymous with a UC. As such, it is not required.’
Deekens emphasizes that all of this still remains to be discussed during the University Council meeting on Thursday. A decision about the plans by the municipal council is scheduled for next week.