Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Wb response

Wb response

Wb response

There has been much consternation among Chinese students and researchers in
Wageningen in reaction to a number of articles in the Wb of 4 December
2003. The Chinese students feel offended by what they regard as offensive
and, according to some, even racist reporting. A response is required from

Was it our intention to show up the Chinese student community? No, this was
certainly not the intention and was not what led to our reporting. The
reason for our reports was that we had heard from various programme
directors, practical supervisors and Dutch students that the group of
Chinese students that arrived in Wageningen for the BSc degree course this
autumn was experiencing problems of adjustment. Wageningen University is
the only Dutch university to have such a far-reaching cooperation agreement
with a partner institution in another country, as Wageningen has with the
Chinese Agricultural University. The first group of students here is
naturally watched with great interest, also by our newspaper. In addition,
there were considerable problems last year with a group of Chinese students
who came to Wageningen for an MBA course. Upon arrival it appeared that the
students did not have the correct qualifications, and their lack of English
was a problem.

If a programme director and teaching staff are critical of the tie-up
between the educational programmes in China and Wageningen, we consider
that news and we report the matter. Our aim was to present various aspects
of the issue, asking for comments from not only the programme director, but
also a lecturer, a Dutch student, and of course the Chinese students

Did this process result in careful and balanced reporting? No. Although the
views of all those interviewed are presented, a reading of the articles
reveals that the slant is from the Dutch angle. The Chinese students had
just arrived from Beijing, after undergoing problems related to Sars,
language tests and visa complications, but this side of the story remains
underexposed. The problems are presented as an issue of the Chinese
students themselves; and the perspective of a Dutch student who is not
happy with the arrival of the Chinese students receives a large amount of
space. The response is that of a few Chinese BSc students who politely
suggest that the Wageningen way of teaching is somewhat different from what
they were used to in China.

In our reporting we have not presented the Chinese BSc students in a fair
light. If there are problems in meshing the educational programmes of
Wageningen University with those of the Chinese Agricultural University,
then the students are certainly not the ones who are at fault, in fact they
are more likely to be the primary victims. Our reporting unintentionally
suggested the opposite. It is understandable that Chinese students are
angry about this. A newspaper of a university with a growing international
community should not have confined itself to such a one-sided view of the
problem. We would like to extend our apologies to the Chinese community for
the unintentionally negative picture that arose.

Korné Versluis
Editor in chief