Friesland wants eleventh faculty researched
The four coalition parties – CDA, VVD, SP and FNP – addressed the RUG’s proposed plans for the Frisian capitol in their coalition agreement document published on 15 May. The existing University Campus Friesland offers a handful of master’s programmes in Leeuwarden and is meant to become part of a faculty that will also include a second University College, scheduled to open in 2016.
The agreement says that the coalition sees the value of increasing the higher education opportunities in the province. However, the faculty has to be complementary to existing businesses and knowledge institutions, as well as to provide more opportunities for applied science school students to flow into research institutions.
‘In order to determine whether or not the proposed faculty satisfies our wishes, we want to conduct research in the coming months into the effects of the eleventh faculty’, the agreement states. ‘If that has a positive outcome, then we will be willing to contribute to the starting phase of this eleventh faculty.’
Jouke de Vries, the dean of the faculty who assumed the position on 1 May, told the Leeuwarder Courant that he was concerned that any delays could weaken the plans. He says that if the provincial government conducts the proposed research, the plans for the faculty could lose momentum in Friesland.
Before the provincial elections in March, two parties within the coalition at the time – PvdA and FNP – made separate proposals for between 20 and 25 million euros of the budget to be set aside for the second University College. While FNP remains in the new coalition, PvdA is not.
‘A good collaboration’
In response to the agreement, RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens says, ‘We are following the discussions and research of the provincial council with interest, and we are naturally prepared to discuss it with them and provide input.’
‘The RUG has full faith in a good collaboration and the continued development from UCF into RUG/Campus Fryslan. Much research has been conducted into the positive effects of the presence of the university in a general sense, and that was also the conclusion in the evaluation of phase one of UCF last year’, Deekens says.
If more research is to be conducted, Deekens says it could delay the plans. ‘If student recruitment for master’s programmes beginning in 2016 is to succeed, that has to begin at the end of 2015. Otherwise, you run the risk of delaying it by a year.’
When asked whether the financing of the Leeuwarden plans would be impacted by the coalition’s calls for further research, Deekens says, ‘That is speculation, so I will not discuss that.’