University College Friesland depends on Groningen success

A University College (UC) in Friesland will only open once the UC in Groningen is on more stable footing, according to RUG president Poppema.

President Poppema made that decision known on Thursday during a University Council meeting. ‘We will only submit a request to begin a UC in Friesland once the UC in Groningen is running smoothly and has more than enough students.’

That means that the plans for the UC Friesland, which are meant to be a part of the RUG/Campus Fryslân, are being put on ice for now. Poppema expects that it should be clear over two years’ time if the UC in Friesland will be realized. The Frisian location is meant to become a branch campus of the existing UC in Groningen.

Groningen not yet a success

The UC in Groningen has had trouble recruiting enough students. The faculty needs 100 first year students, but has only managed to attract 30 students per year for the past two academic years. According to the board of the UC, the programme must grow significantly in order to keep costs limited, namely by around 200 students per year.

According to Dean Hans van Ees, it is ‘imperative’ that the UC in Groningen recruits 100 students for the coming year.

More applications than spots

That is still not enough to pursue a UC in Friesland. Only when the number of applicants in Groningen is greater than the number of available spots will a UC in Friesland be initiated. ‘If the UC here is full and there are more students enrolling than there are positions available, then we will begin a UC in Friesland. Otherwise, there is no good argument for opening a branch location.’

The staff faction of the University Council questioned whether the plans for the eleventh faculty in Friesland would be substantial enough if the UC is not set up straight away.

Knight without armour

‘The UC Fryslân was a knight with a full suit of armour. Now we are discussing the prerequisites for the UC, and we have a knight who has lost his armour and all we have left is a scrawny man’, says history professor Antoon de Baets.

‘But it is still something that has potential’, Poppema replies. During the initial plans for the Campus Fryslân, there was never talk of a University College, he says. ‘The plans for the UC came along later. That had to do with the desires of Friesland to increase the student population by offering more than merely master’s programmes. It’s not a problem if it takes a little more time.’


That does mean that the investments from Friesland which were attached to the University College in Leeuwarden will not be made just yet. But that’s also not a problem, according to Poppema. ‘If you don’t have those expenses, then you also don’t need the money.’

According to the university president, a proposal for attracting new students is pending from the University College. ‘But it remains to be seen if that will lead to enough students, if not more than enough’, says Poppema.