Science - September 23, 2004

SSHW not sure whether to build

Uncertainty about the number of international students likely to come to Wageningen in the near future has led to doubts about building new accommodation at the student accommodation office SSHW. The plans to build over a thousand new student rooms have been temporarily shelved.

The directors of SSHW spelled out the uncertainties to the supervisory board of the organisation this week. The expected numbers of international students are difficult to predict, in particular because the future of the cooperation programme between Wageningen UR and the Chinese Agricultural University is unclear. Predictions made last year suggested that nearly one hundred Chinese students would start the Dutch part of the programme here each year. But due to the problems encountered by the first group of Chinese, the future of the whole programme is unclear. The whole cooperation agreement is at present on hold.

SSHW is also keeping an eagle eye on the proposed budget cuts from the Dutch cabinet. There are plans to scrap government financing for non-EU students. This would mean a sharp rise in tuition fees for these students, and therefore the estimates of the number of international students likely to come to Wageningen in the next few years may well be too optimistic.

Jan Harkema, vice-director of SSHW: ‘We are weighing up the situation internally.’ According to Harkema, the plans to build new complexes in the Nobelweg, the Vijzelstraat and the Boomgaarden will go ahead. He expects that the decision on other new accommodation plans will be made sometime next year. / KV

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