Science - May 27, 2004

Time-out called to review Chinese part of programme

The joint Bachelor’s degree set up by the China Agricultural University (CAU) and Wageningen University is to be stopped for a period of one year. The time-out will be used to reshape the Chinese part of the programme. The first Chinese that are already in Wageningen for the BSc programme were not sufficiently prepared and have scored badly so far in their coursework.

Rector Magnificus Professor Bert Speelman was recently in China, and has come to agreements with his Chinese counterpart at CAU, Professor Chen. “The Chinese are well aware that the Chinese students in Wageningen are not doing so well,” according to Rien Bor of education marketing, who accompanied the rector to China.

No new students will be admitted to the Chinese part of the Bachelor’s programme this coming academic year. The students who have already been admitted will be allowed to come, but they will not be allowed to go on automatically to the Wageningen part of the degree course. They will first have to pass an IELTS language test and an admissions exam. According to Bor there will be about fifteen to twenty new students coming to Wageningen, at least sixty fewer than last year. The other students did not pass the tests in China.

A Wageningen teacher will leave soon for China to give lessons in chemistry and technical English to the students there. For those who are already in Wageningen, individual solutions will be devised. “We have to look at who will be allowed to continue. Some may be able to go on to other courses in the Netherlands,” explains Bor.

While cooperation with CAU has slowed down, cooperation with two other Chinese universities is on the increase. Wageningen UR and Nanjing Agricultural University are planning more collaboration in a number of areas, including plants, animals, economics and biotechnology. Four joint MSc programmes will be set up, in which students will do a year in Nanjing and eighteen months in Wageningen. Nanjing will select a maximum of fifteen participants, who will finance the study themselves.

There are also plans for closer collaboration between Wageningen and the Northwest Sci-Tech University of Agriculture and Forestry in Yangling, in the province of Shanxi. Like Wageningen, this is a university where a merger has recently taken place with big research institutes.

Guido van Hofwegen