Wetenschap - 11 oktober 2001

English Summary

While Wageningen is faced with a housing shortage for international students, the situation is worse in the northern university town of Groningen.

There a number of students have been offered temporary accommodation in the local youth hostel, not that everyone is satisfied. "It's not much fun sleeping in a dormitory with 24 other students, and we have no kitchen," complained a Spanish student. The University of Groningen is currently looking into whether the 176 cancellations that they have had from international students have anything to do with the housing shortage. Those who return home because they have nowhere to live will have their costs reimbursed, and will be given priority next year.

The BSc courses which Wageningen University has set up in cooperation with the Chinese Agricultural University are proving popular.

About 90 Chinese students have already started the programme, and will come to Wageningen in 2003 for the final two years of the BSc, after which they can continue for an MSc if they wish. There is still a lot of work to be done however to ensure the success of the programme, including curriculum planning, and making sure that the Chinese students become familiar with the English of the Dutch teachers here. As the head of Education Strategy Theo Douma put it, 'our English is often different from Oxford English'.

The Wageningen task force for 'valuable agriculture' (waardevolle landbouw) presents the results of three months' brainstorming on innovation in Dutch agriculture, financed to the tune of one million guilders by the Wageningen UR executive board.

Eight young scientists worked on the two-part report, and their vision is that renewal and innovation can best take place by creating alliances and strategic cooperation between different interest groups who can recognise and voice the values they find important in the development of agriculture and the environment. These groups should be given the opportunity to experiment, legally, financially and policy wise. The task force does not see its role as a blueprint provider, but emphasises the importance of encouraging and supporting local initiatives, citing the Worldwide Innovation Network for Agricultural Stewardship (WINAS) as an example.

The Hugo de Vries Prize for biology, worth 25,000 guilders has been won by a Wageningen researcher.

Dr Julia Buitink received the prize for her doctoral research on the shelf life of seeds. Her research started with measuring the movement of molecules in seeds. She showed that the slower the molecules move the longer the seeds maintained their quality. She used this information to calculate how long seed banks can keep viable seeds in storage. Buitink received her prize on Tuesday 9 October at Plant Research International. Her PhD research was supervised by Professor Linus van der Plas of the Plant Physiology Group.

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