Ventures abroad reined in

From now on, Dutch universities will not be allowed to use public funds for ventures abroad, says education minister Jet Bussemaker. According to the RUG, that will not be a problem for the plans in Yantai.

In a letter from the minister addressed to the Lower House of Parliament, she specified conditions that programmes must satisfy if they want to offer their courses abroad. Not only are universities no longer allowed to use public money, but the quality of education must also be guaranteed.

‘The interests of the students must always come first. Academic institutions have a social responsibility. If transnational education falls within that, then I fully support making it available. But I also want to be able to take action if institutions jump into ventures abroad for other reasons’, Bussemaker says.

No problem

That will not be a problem for the RUG’s plans for a sister campus in the Chinese city of Yantai, says spokesperson Gernant Deekens. ‘We have stated since the start that no public money is being used by the RUG for the development of the plans for the sister campus in Yantai. We completely agree with the minister, and this is not news to us.’

Together with Stephan van Galen, the secretary general of the office of the university, RUG president Sibrand Poppema was in China last week in order to discuss the progress of the plans with the board of China Agricultural University (CAU), their partner for the would-be branch campus.

The request to officially open the campus is still pending approval by the Chinese Ministry of Education. The directors of the RUG and CAU must both give explanatory statements about the plans to a committee from the Chinese ministry. ‘Sibrand Poppema and Ke Bingsheng will be invited to do that in the near future. We do not know when this will take place and we have yet to be invited to do so’, says Deekens.

Green light

The university expects to hear from the Chinese ministry about whether the campus in Yantai has been given the green light or not either later this month or in early June. In addition to this, current laws have to change in the Netherlands in order to make the venture in Yantai possible. The Ministry of Education, together with the RUG, is proposing to make the governmental decree in September.

The Dutch Ministry of Education’s Director-General of Higher and Vocational Education, Hans Schutte, was in Yantai and Peking last week with Poppema and Van Galen, along with EP-Nuffic, the organisation for internationalisation in education, to speak with the Chinese ministry of education about the plans for the campus.