Council questions role in Friesland plans

No official announcements will be made about the eleventh faculty plans in Leeuwarden until mid-October, but that hasn’t stopped the University Council from asking questions.

So far, the council has not been provided with a formal proposal for the planned University of Groningen campus expansion in Friesland. Bart Beijer, a member of the presidium of the University Council from the Personnel Faction, says that the ideas for Leeuwarden were discussed once in the spring, and at the time, the council was told that definitive plans were still pending.

Those definitive details are scheduled to be shared later this month following an official signing of an agreement by the involved parties: the province of Friesland, the municipal council and the University Council of Groningen, according to Beijer.

Influencing the decision

Although the council does not yet have the details of the agreement, there are several points in the coming months at which the council could influence the decision.

‘We believe that we have a right of assent on the pending agreement, but it’s possible that the Board of directors thinks differently. We’ll have to see when the time comes’, Beijer says. ‘What our collective opinion of the plans will be by then remains to be seen.’

‘In any case, we absolutely have the right of assent for the strategic plan, which includes the Frisian plans, as well as the Administration and Management regulations where, among other things, the manner in which the university is managed is described.’

Right of assent

Another presidium member, Mathieu Paapst of the Science Faction, confirms that the Board has the right to assent for all changes to the regulations, which also includes the Yantai plans.

RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens also affirms that the University Council has the right of assent for the strategic plan, as well as the A&M regulations. ‘Through these means, the University Council has right of assent to the plans for the eleventh faculty. Additionally, the council has advisory powers for the eleventh faculty plans.’

‘No cash from Groningen’

During the University Council meeting last week, matters such as the use of the term ‘faculty’ to describe the plans and quality assurance standards while working more closely with applied sciences schools were raised.

In response to a question about how the faculty would be paid for, RUG president Sibrand Poppema said, ‘Cash money will come from Friesland, and the RUG’s contribution will be programmes whose tuition fees will in turn result in income. There will be no cash coming from Groningen.’

When the plans were originally announced in January to pursue the 11th faculty, dean Jouke De Vries said that Groningen would pay ‘in kind’, but Poppema stated that the RUG would not have to pay anything for the expansion of the facilities in Friesland.

‘In kind’

The ‘in kind’ contribution may take the form of the RUG providing personnel and other resources for the new faculty, and the tuition fees paid by its students can in turn be used to pay for the education. Dean Jouke de Vries said he could not comment about the payment contribution of the RUG, however.

In June, De Vries had said that 50 million euros would be needed to set up the faculty over the next decade. At that time, De Vries said that the province would likely be asked to contribute 25 million euros and that the RUG would ‘accept the risk’ for that same amount.

The earmarking of 25 million euros from the province was the contribution proposed by the outgoing PvdA party before elections in March. A smaller proposal of 20 million euros was also put forward by the FNP, a party which remains in the coalition government in the province.

Still being discussed

How much the province of Friesland will be paying, how long the faculty is expected to remain in operation in Leeuwarden and the role of existing infrastructure at UCF in the expanded campus remain unanswered for now.

Marieke Ferwerda, the board advisor for Frisian CDA representative Sander de Rouwe, says that all of those points are still being discussed, but that no specific details could be provided at this time.

Two weeks ago, a delegation from the RUG, representatives from the municipality of Leeuwarden and the province of Friesland came to a principle agreement about moving forward with the 11th faculty plans in Leeuwarden. The parties have stated they will not share any additional information until the week of 12 October.