University College launches new website

University College Groningen’s new website – – is simultaneously a marketing tool and a competition for would-be future students to answer pressing social questions.

According to Katie Mallon, communications officer for UCG, the site will be used for a sustainability-themed competition for high schoolers. ‘The idea is for students to engage in our interdisciplinary approach and to look at certain social challenges’, Mallon says.

The slogan of the site, which officially launched on Monday, 9 November, is ‘Shape the questions that shape the future’. Participating teams of two to four 16- to 18-year-olds in the Netherlands are tasked with posing their own questions – and answers – about the theme of food sustainability.


Student groups are expected to consider the ramifications of the future of food and its availability. The topic was chosen in part because it raises questions about ‘poverty and hunger, protecting the environment, the impact of technology and science, and the financial disparity between the have and have-nots’, according to the site. Teams can sign up to participate until 16 December and entries can be submitted for the competition until 31 January, 2016.

A panel of judges will include Sharon Smit, director of the Sustainable Society department at the RUG; Henk Jan Beltman, Tony’s Chocolonely founder; Mark Jacobs, dean of Barrett Honours College at Arizona State University; professor Albert Bressand; and UCG dean Hans van Ees. The experts will evaluate the submitted answers in April 2016.

‘The winning group will be awarded €250 per student in the group, plus €1,000 for their school to put towards a sustainable food initiative of their choice. In addition, the winning group will receive a mystery prize awarded by Tony’s Chocolonely’, the site reads.

Marketing tool

The project is also meant to serve as a marketing tool for UCG. During an informal University Council meeting in October, UCG dean Hans van Ees stated the site was supposed to be part of a more interactive marketing campaign for the programme, which is still seeking to build up its student population after a lack of growth this academic year.

Van Ees said that the current corporate site restricts interaction. ‘I would like to have a marketing approach more based on creating a relationship as an example of the kind of things we want to do at UCG.’

While the new site is intended to increase engagement, it would not be a replacement for their existing RUG page. The site also has the effect of reaching potential future UCG students. ‘By engaging with high school students, they can become more familiar with these issues at the university level and perhaps become more interested in studying these subjects at the RUG’, Mallon says.