The agreement confirming the management merger of Wageningen UR and the universities of professional education Larenstein and the Van Hall Instituut was signed this Tuesday, 6 January. The two colleges of higher agricultural education in Velp and Leeuwarden will become the sixth Sciences Group of Wageningen UR.
Getting this far has taken three years, and working out the cooperation plans is likely to take the same amount of time again according to Aalt Dijkhuizen. Students will benefit from the merger as there will be a wider choice of courses. Members of staff will gain greater careers opportunities, and the organisation as a whole will benefit from joint investments in areas such as computer education and recruiting international students. The merger means a doubling of student numbers: the two colleges have 4200 students together, while Wageningen University has 4700 students. In contrast the colleges have a total of 500 members of staff, compared with 6700 at Wageningen UR. Chairman of the board of Van Hall/Larenstein, Wiebe Wieling, indicated that the universities of professional education stand to gain a better status for their Masters courses. At present these receive no government subsidies, but they will do so once they fall under Wageningen UR. Dijkhuizen concluded the meeting with a warning of the danger of staff and students becoming overwhelmed in the expanding organization. “In all our plans people come first. We must ensure that everyone feels safe in their own space.” | K.V.