Council has no say in Friesland campus
Trouble was brewing in the University Council following a long morning session on Thursday. Just before breaking for lunch, the development plan for the Frisian campus was on the agenda for discussion. But it never got that far: before the plans even officially came up, the council found itself in a heated discussion about their own participation in approving the plans.
The personnel faction members were under the impression that they would be allowed to have a say in whether to develop the campus in Friesland, but the University Board thought otherwise.
‘We will seek your counsel, but not for giving the green light for the campus’, University Board member Jan de Jeu began. But the personnel faction wasn’t having any of it. ‘The provincial states of Friesland and the municipal council of Leeuwarden have to be in full agreement. But now we have to conclude that the university council will not be granted that same position. Is no one interested in support from within the university anymore?’ replied personnel faction member Hilly Mast, clearly annoyed.
Later, she tweeted, ‘Support for Campus Friesland does not seem to matter to the RUG board! They are trying to get around the University Council in terms of decision-making.’
Draagvlak voor Campus Friesland acht RUG-bestuur blijkbaar niet van belang! Het probeert Uraad te omzeilen in kader van de besluitvorming.
— Hilly Mast (@hillymast) October 29, 2015
During the meeting, personnel faction chairperson Bart Beijer was also critical of the statement. ‘In June, we were suddenly granted the right of assent for the Yantai plans. Why would it be any different now, given that this is also about setting up a branch campus? That is a mystery to me’, he said.
‘Considering the scale of this decision, according to the law, the university council has right of assent’, personnel faction member Antoon de Baets entreated. But RUG president Sibrand Poppema did not want to hear it. ‘We will seek your counsel on the development plan. That is what we are discussing now, and the fact of the matter is that I have said that there is a right of consultation for the plans. Period.’
The discussion of the document has been postponed until the next Council meeting in November. But the students and the staff members made known that they still have many questions with regard to the development of the campus.
‘We are concerned that the University College Groningen (UCG) will suffer as a result of the addition of the University College in Friesland (UCF). The UCG needs five years to overcome its growing pains and teething problems. Given that fact, is it wise to start yet another University College 50 kilometres away?’ asked Nathalie Niehof of Lijst Calimero.
‘There is still a lot of uncertainty with regard to the master’s programmes. I am missing the research behind this. Is there really enough drive for these programmes?’ Beijer added. ‘We need a more concrete plan. This seems to be hasty guesswork. I don’t see any analysis in these plans’, said personnel faction member Olaf Scholten.
The University Board disagreed with the comments. They believe that there is sufficient information and that there is enough demand for the master programmes, according to rector Elmer Sterken. ‘There is good coordination between what we want to do in Leeuwarden and in Groningen’, he affirmed.
On top of that, nothing has yet been officially decided, Poppema says. ‘We did not sign anything in October. We have determined that the three of us (the RUG, the municipality and the province, ed.) want to do that. But before we make an official decision, the financial commitment has to be written down on paper. It’s essential that the money is there, because without it, it won’t happen.’
To be continued.
Photo: Municipality of Leeuwarden