Wetenschap - 7 januari 1999

Wageningen will keep international orientation after business plan

Wageningen will keep international orientation after business plan

Wageningen will keep international orientation after business plan

International students need not worry. Wageningen UR will still have an international orientation after the implementation of the recently presented business plan. Vice rector Bert Speelman said this Friday December 18th at a meeting with international students. The meeting was organised by the international students panel and was attended by approximately 60 students. Speelman was irritated by an e-mail he received earlier that day. I was very surprised to see a message that said: please tell your friends not to come to Wageningen because there will be no international programmes. I ask you, do not tell lies, that is not true. We will have 12 programmes and some interdisciplinary specialisations available for international students. On top of that, the advanced courses for Dutch students will be taught in English and thus will also be accessible to international students

Speelman could do little however to dispel the worries of the students. They were especially concerned about the future of the social sciences and development studies in Wageningen. Speelman agreed that some expertise will be lost because of the cuts. But these have become unavoidable after the budget cuts by the Dutch government. The decision to cut the programmes in tropical and development studies is based on the fact that most of the Dutch students in those programmes work in the Netherlands. Only 21 percent of the graduates have a job that is directly related to the development sector. We will continue to offer a specialisation on development issues by cooperating with the University of Nijmegen. That university has long-term experience in development studies and has a lot of expertise.

Another concern of the students was the plan to integrate Dutch and international courses. International students usually have working experience and have had more education than the Dutch students who come straight from high school, said one of them. A lot of students come to Wageningen to exchange knowledge with other students. That will not be possible if we are only a minority among Dutch students. According to Speelman integration of Dutch and international programmes will be more cost-effective. International students are expensive for WAU; the student-fees do not cover the costs of education. The university loses 10,000 guilders per student and the Ministry of Agriculture does not cover those costs. That is the main reason to integrate the special international programmes with the regular Dutch courses

So far the Executive Board has received 600 reactions to the business plan. After protests of students and staff the board agreed to organize two public meetings where some of the plans will be discussed. The discussions will be held on January 18th and 19th

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