Additional right of consent Yantai

After Lijst Calimero and the Personnel Faction (PF) initiated a discussion with the Board of the University, it has been decided that the University Council has to approve the entreaty the University of Groningen does for the establishment of a branch campus in Yantai (China). Additionally, faculty councils have to approve the faculty specific parts of the plan. We wrote the following article about it, which you can also find in the news section of this website.

After Lijst Calimero and the Personnel Faction (PF) initiated a discussion with the Board of the University, it has been decided that the University Council has to approve the entreaty the University of Groningen does for the establishment of a branch campus in Yantai (China). Additionally, faculty councils have to approve the faculty specific parts of the plan. With plans as currently stated in the Business Case, Lijst Calimero is seriously worried about the possible consequences that opening a branch campus in Yantai could have for the University of Groningen (UG). We see great threats to the quality of education and in our opinion, the diploma of UG students and its value can never be at risk. The approval of the University Council and faculty councils gives us the opportunity to critically control the plans of the University.

In the past two years the plans for a branch campus in Yantai has been a major topic of discussion at our University. Together with a Chinese partner university, the UG aims to establish a branch campus in China that offers UG degree programs and where UG diplomas can be obtained. In the summer of 2015, the University Council gave consent to the strategic plan of a branch campus in China, given that numerous requirements will be fulfilled.

One of the most important requirements is that the personnel in Yantai has to meet the same qualitative prerequisites as personnel in Groningen. Furthermore, the departure of UG staff to Yantai can never lead to a decrease in the quality of education in Groningen. In the meantime, the immense efforts the UG has to make to realize degree programs in Yantai have been assessed. The University needs to recruit a lot of new personnel in order to prevent a decrease in the quality of education and teaching. It already seems to be difficult for the University to improve its current student/staff-ratio. In the future, it will not only be difficult to attract qualitative staff for the realization of Yantai, but also for the replacement of personnel in Groningen. Before giving consent for the Yantai plans, we will therefore make sure that the quality of education can be ensured.

As we emphasized repeatedly, Lijst Calimero considers it is important that such a large-scaled plan as Yantai is supported by students and staff. At the moment, we are not yet convinced of sufficient support from the academic community. Several faculty councils recently expressed their concerns about the plans for the branch campus and the way in which they are involved in the process. Since faculties are after all the ones that will be realizing degree programs in Yantai and therefore have to support the plans for Yantai, we consider approval of the faculty specific parts of the plan by faculty councils as crucial.

Throughout the past two years, we kept ahead of the game and tried to constructively contribute to the plans of the Board of the University. We repeatedly expressed our concerns and asked critical questions. However, the current plans for the branch campus in Yantai, as presented in the Business Case, and the implementation strategy the UG pursues, are not convincing. In our opinion, the current plan contains risks that threaten the quality of education at our University. The information we have received so far and the discussion we carried out have not been able to take away our concerns. Additionally, central and decentral consultative bodies are currently barely involved in the decision-making process, which is why we demanded approval of those gremia. With the regained right of consent there is now sufficient room for new discussions in order to realize an implementation of the Yantai plans that will be supported by students and staff of the University of Groningen.