Organisation - October 22, 2009

Open letter to Aalt Dijkuizen

Dear Aalt,
In an interview in VVA Magazine, you challenge Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences to use the Larenstein country estate, with the richness of its ecology and countryside, to attract hundreds of extra students every year. The heading above the interview is somewhat caustic: 'Sound teaching better than an attractive country estate'.
This country estate has to pay its way, for example through property development. In the spring we handed in a petition against excessive property development, for instance in the form of residential housing. You even became enthusiastic when it turned out nearly all the students and staff had signed the petition for the continuation of good-quality teaching. You gave us the label "Nature Valley". A real compliment, and a useful label for marketing purposes!
In Velp the country estate serves as the basis for sound teaching at the university of applied sciences (HBO) and in senior secondary vocational education (MBO). We use the country estate as a classroom for practical lessons. You cannot learn from a flora book how plants develop in their own ecosystems, how species behave in gardens or how groundwater flows from the Veluwe to the IJssel valley. We are able to show and study 35 ecotopes if we include the botanical garden with native flora. We have half of all flora found in the Netherlands. It is also a goldmine for Wageningen University students - let them come and have a look.
Moving the teaching location would definitely have a negative impact on our appeal if the school were then to be surrounded by lawns. When they make their choice of university, our students have visited other universities of applied sciences as well, but 'then they would have to study in a flat'. That is what they don't want and so they come to Velp. In fact the country estate's advantages already produce extra students, possibly even a hundred extra!
Ad Olsthoorn, lecturer at VHL Velp

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