Student factions want more information on Yantai
Rob Jagt, presidium of the student faction in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences council, emphasises that he is not against the idea of a branch campus in general. However, many on the council have the impression that the proceedings seem more like ideas than plans. ‘From the faculty council perspective, we are concerned about the impact this will have on the faculty’, Jagt says.
Annabel van den Bossche of the student faction of the Faculty of Economics and Business council also stresses that FEB is certainly no stranger to internationalisation. ‘FEB is a super international faculty, so we know what we’re talking about when it comes to that’, she says. ‘Internationalisation is a great idea, but the Yantai idea is just really very bad.’
A timeline of significant points in the negotiations through the end of 2015 will be discussed in the University Council this week, but how they’re going to actually achieve those goals remains quite unclear, Jagt says. He adds that the consensus among students seems to be that the Yantai campus is an interesting idea with little connection to them. ‘For students, it doesn’t really effect them directly. They think that if it’s only happening in 2017, it’s just seen as an option to go abroad there, but it’s also not their only option.’
Annabel thinks the fact that little information about the plans has reached the students plays a role in that view. During meetings between the faculty councils and the board of directors about the Yantai plans, Annabel says, ‘We were really shocked by how badly informed the students were. Each faculty made their concerns known, because they all have their own priorities and concerns, and the University Council had not heard about those concerns, which also shocked us.’
What’s more, some of the council members themselves seem out-of-touch with how the students feel. ‘One member said that they had spoken with students and that they all thought it was great that we’re going international, but we’re already super international here. You can become more international in 780 different ways.’
‘They’re doing their best’
The perceived failure to fully inform the involved faculties prompted the FEB student faction to send letters to the FEB faculty board, the university board of directors and president Poppema himself about questions that remain unanswered.
‘Providing information has been really bad’, Annabel says. ‘Our board has been open and they share everything with us that they can, and they’re doing their best for us, but they don’t have much better answers than we do.’
The potential difficulty of recruiting new staff here once a portion of the FMNS staff begins working in Yantai is another issue that Rob identifies. ‘You may have resources to fill certain vacancies, but you have to be able to find the right person. I know that in the business faculty already there are vacancies that have yet to be filled. If you add another five people to that, you’ll just have more unfilled positions.’
Copy and paste
President Poppema has previously said that the mathematics and natural science courses will be among the first in China so that the campus in Yantai can bring its infrastructure up-to-date. But Rob points out that master’s programmes in particular rely very heavily on equipment in Groningen.
‘Much of the curriculum is at the master level, which is specifically connected to research we do here and relies on a lot of infrastructure with electronic microscopes and labs. You can’t do it there just by exporting certain professors. Copy-pasting it from here to there just won’t work as simply as that.’
Annabel also doubts that assurance. ‘At first, they said it was going to be a copy of the RUG, and now they’re saying that it’s going to be a completely independent university. Then what are the benefits for us?’