Friesland approves RUG/Campus Fryslân
The RUG/Campus Fryslân plans were discussed in the provincial council for over two hours and voted upon as part of a lengthy agenda early Wednesday evening, following a full day of debate.
In the end, 37 members voted in favor of the plans, four voted against and one member abstained. Executive council coalition parties VVD and CDA members spoke favorably during discussions, but members of the PVV and the 50 plus party voted against the plans.
Executive council representative Sander De Rouwe (CDA) was pleased with the outcome of the vote. Following a celebratory Christmas dinner after the yeas and nays were counted, De Rouwe says that it took serious effort to win a majority.
‘Each party had their own input, doubts and priorities’, De Rouwe says. ‘But everyone was eventually convinced after they felt their points had been heard.’
During the debate, De Rouwe praised how RUG president Sibrand Poppema has fought hard to bring the Friesland plans to fruition. ‘He has really stuck his neck out to achieve a faculty in Leeuwarden. All of the parties have been very active, but the input from the RUG has really been overwhelming.’
The vote of approval by the provincial government means that 16.83 million euros will be made available for the first phase of the RUG/Campus Fryslân plans.
The municipality of Leeuwarden will contribute 3.3 million, and a sum of one million euros left over from the first phase of University Campus Fryslân will also be available, according to De Rouwe. The funding is meant to cover the costs for the operations during the unprofitable first years through 2022.
‘A great result’
Jouke de Vries, the dean of the RUG/Campus Fryslân, was also pleased about the vote. ‘That’s a great result of the debate, it’s a positive decision from the council’, he says. ‘Now we can go on with the accreditation process.’
The next step in the process is for the knowledge institutions in Leeuwarden, such as Wetsus, Fryske Akademie and the applied science universities, to sign a higher education agreement.
‘Because it’s not just a faculty, it’s a platform’, De Vries says. ‘The municipality and province and I, too, think it’s important that these institutions will help to develop the curriculum.’
While the university, province and municipality have been voting on the plans, De Vries says he has already been hustling to develop the master’s programmes in particular.
Two masters – a geography programme in connection with the Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the RUG and a tourism master with Stenden University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden – are in the works. Several projects focused on sustainability and big data are also being set up.
A dossier for the function assessment (macrodoelmatigheidstoets) has to be submitted by 1 June. ‘That’s my plan. We have to work hard, but it’s doable’, De Vries says with conviction.
Starting in January, the existing UCF (University Campus Fryslân) will change its name officially to RUG/Campus Fryslân. The new platform will continue to serve as a graduate school for PhD candidates and a handful of master programmes.
Providing it receives the required accreditation, a broad bachelor programme should begin in 2017. The bachelor level was originally intended to be a second University College of the RUG.
The University Council of the RUG and the municipal council of Leeuwarden have already consented to the plans in recent weeks. The official agreement for the plans should be signed by the involved parties in January.