Math and Science concerns about Yantai

Members of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences council and chemistry programme director Dirk Slotboom have expressed concerns about the Yantai plans.

The faculty council members were informed by the faculty board about the latest Yantai developments during the meeting on 13 May. While part of the council is reportedly enthusiastic about the opportunity, several members also expressed concern about the impact of the plans on the faculty in Groningen.

‘There is a high risk of extra stress for Groningen personnel as a consequence of extra workload required to transfer knowledge and skills to the China branch, and as a result of colleagues leaving and the selection and coaching of new colleagues’, according to a summary of the meeting in a faculty newsletter.

Moving too quickly

The council reportedly feels that the plans are moving too quickly to ensure that the faculty board actually gives its consent on important matters, such as ‘which of the educational programmes will be part of the Yantai organization, when they will be transferred and in which order.’ Those decisions should be made by the faculty board before 16 June.

Accreditation, the right to issue double degrees to Chinese students and finding high-quality personnel to guarantee a credible research environment in Yantai were also identified as issues that deserve attention. ‘The faculty council is very willing to discuss those matters, which concern and could affect our entire faculty, more thoroughly and will invite the board to engage therein.’


Dirk Slotboom, the adjunct programme director of the chemistry department, also addressed a letter outlining his department’s concerns to the faculty board and the university board of directors last week.

‘The chemistry staff applauds initiatives for collaboration and internationalization, but questions the speed and prudence with which the Yantai project is being pursued’, the letter reads.

‘The scarcity of information that has been provided thus far about the plans with regard to starting a chemistry programme in Yantai is causing unrest among the department staff.’

Specific questions

Slotboom would like to have answers to specific questions about both short-term and long-term goals for the branch, what sort of hiring profile will be used for the future Yantai chemistry department, distribution of labour and what form the financing will take.

The letter also requests an in-depth risk analysis ‘to assess the risks for financing, accreditation, continuity for personnel in Groningen and the attractiveness of our organization to students. Political, social and cultural aspects of the collaboration with China should also be explicitly addressed.’

Slotboom says that the faculty board and the university board have already responded to the letter. According to Slotboom, they are currently carrying out a risk analysis and will provide answers in the near future.