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Branch campus Yantai

University of Groningen to reconsider plans for Yantai campus in China

The Board of the University of Groningen has decided not to submit its proposal to offer transnational education in Yantai to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. The Board of the University regrets this, but there is insufficient support within the University Council for this proposal.

President of the Board Sibrand Poppema: ‘This means that the Board of the University will cancel its plans to offer entire degree programmes under the responsibility of the UG in Yantai. In the near future we will investigate, together with the faculties and degree programmes, which other forms of collaboration are possible in Yantai.’ The Board of the University will immediately inform all parties involved of this decision.

Internationalization is one of the most important aspects of the UG’s strategic plan. It is an important instrument to improve quality and drive innovation and diversity. The UG has been collaborating in teaching and research with other international universities for decades, including in China. This has contributed substantially to the position the UG now holds in the global academic world.

Below you can find background information about the original plan. This plan is no longer up to date, now that the Board of the University of Groningen reconsidered its plans.

The University of Groningen wants to be the first Dutch university to open a branch campus in China. In collaboration with China Agricultural University, Beijing, the University plans to establish a presence on a campus in the city of Yantai. A large part of the campus has already been developed.

The initiative is comparable to other branch campuses, for example those set up by the University of Nottingham and New York University in Ningbo and Shanghai respectively. The declaration of intent for the foundation of University of Groningen Yantai has been set out in a tripartite agreement, signed by the University of Groningen, China Agricultural University and the city of Yantai on 25 March 2015. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attended the event. Opening a branch campus is an opportunity for the UG to expand on its position as a global university. The campus will attract talented students, top researchers and high-profile research projects, all of which will ultimately generate funding.

In Yantai we plan to offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programmes that incorporate significant research activities and collaboration with the business sector. The branch campus will enable students and staff from Groningen to gain experience abroad and give researchers the chance to conduct ground-breaking research in China. Also Chinese and international students will have the opportunity to study at the branch campus. After a preparatory year Chinese and international students will begin a UG degree programme in Yantai, and successful students will be awarded a University of Groningen degree.

the University of Groningen already has a great deal of experience in China. We have exchange programs, for example, and teachers regularly go to China to give lectures. This brochure gives an overview of the close relationship between the UG and China and of the impact and the results of the collaboration. In addition, we maintain a broad administrative network in China.

What has drawn the University of Groningen to China?

The campus will focus on international students who are eligible for an exchange programme with Groningen, while UG students can take advantage of the safe, attractive environment of the branch campus. They will be able to take course units there of assured quality with guaranteed ECTS credit points. This will make the University of Groningen more attractive for Dutch and European students seeking experience in Asia.

The branch campus will provide excellent opportunities to deploy initiatives such as the international classroom, electronic learning and learning communities right from the onset.

This branch campus will allow the UG to develop into a global university. The fact that the University of Groningen is seeking to make the branch campus research intensive will make it attractive to academics who wish to continue their career in Asia within the research environment of a European university. This will also create attractive placement positions for students, opportunities for UG postdocs and tenure track positions for young academics. Moreover, the campus can offer Groningen staff the opportunity to work in a different environment for a while. Finally, the research facilities might spark closer collaboration with Dutch and international companies in China who want to perform their research and product development together with UGY.

Finance

All UGY costs will be covered by tuition fees; the city of Yantai is responsible for investments in buildings and facilities. The University of Groningen (UG) has reached an agreement with China Agricultural University (CAU) and the city of Yantai on the funding of its branch campus in Yantai. This agreement lays the financial foundation for the campus. The city of Yantai will cover the costs of the construction of and equipment for the campus’s teaching and research facilities, as well as budget deficits. The agreement was signed on Monday 26 October 2015. King Willem-Alexander and the Chinese President Xi Jinping were among the attendees.

The Dutch and Chinese education ministries have both approved the underlying budget. This means that the necessary research facilities can be realized, research-led teaching can be offered and top-level research can be initiated. This is what distinguishes this branch campus from other, more teaching-oriented campuses. Companies will also have the opportunity to invest in research conducted at UGY.

University of Groningen Yantai Organization

The University of Groningen Yantai (UGY) will be a Chinese legal entity with the official legal status of an Independent International Joint University. Although we call this a branch campus in Europe, this is in fact a separate legal entity. This means that no public funds from either the UG or the Dutch taxpayers will go to China. The branch campus will be funded by the city of Yantai and the students who register for UGY education in China. The research will partly be funded by Dutch companies that wish to cooperate with the UG in China and partly by the city of Yantai.

Which degree programmes will the University of Groningen offer in Yantai?

In consultation with all Deans, the Board of the University has drawn up a list of the first degree programmes to be offered in Yantai. This list was also included in the application for the establishment of the University of Groningen Yantai (UGY), which our partner, China Agricultural University (CAU), has submitted to the Chinese Ministry of Education for approval. The first 6 degree programmes will start with a preparatory year in September 2018. The academic degree programmes will start in 2019.

We are going to start with 4 Bachelor’s programmes and 2 Master’s programmes from the faculties of Science and Engineering and Spatial Sciences. They are the Bachelor’s degree programmes in Chemistry, Industrial Engineering & Management, Life Sciences & Technology and Mathematics. The Master's programmes are Chemical Engineering and Environmental and Infrastructure Planning. We want to attract 100 students to each Bachelor’s programme and 50 to each Master’s programme. Every year, additional degree programmes will be added from different faculties until we reach a total of 20 Bachelor’s programmes and 10 Master’s programmes. We want to create a broad research university.

How can we guarantee the quality of the education?

The starting point for the University of Groningen is that the degree programmes in Yantai must have the same quality guarantees as the degree programmes in Groningen. At the same time, we wish to avoid incidents at one campus having consequences for accreditation at the other. The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has submitted a proposal for a legislative amendment to the Higher Education Act (WHW; Wet op het hoger onderwijs en wetenschappelijk onderzoek). A significant majority of the House of Representatives voted on Thursday 23 February in favour of of this proposal. This Act and its relevant regulations will make it possible to create a ‘firewall’ between the UG degree programmes in Groningen and those in Yantai. The Bureau of the University and the Ministry of Education are working together towards the same goal: assuring education quality and creating an effective governance structure for international education without endangering the accreditation of the degree programmes in the Netherlands.

The UG sought independent legal advice from various law firms and accountants. The advice thus obtained was used to draw up the contracts between the UG and its partners in such a manner that they are governed by Dutch Law.

In addition, the Education and Qualifications Covenant, signed by the University of Groningen and China Agricultural University at the end of 2016, lays down agreements on quality assurance. The text of the covenant was written in consultation with the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

How much influence does the Chinese government have on the programmes we teach?

Chinese legislation states that the government may not interfere with the content of programmes taught at foreign institutes. The Vice Chancellor of the Board of the University of Yantai will be responsible for the education programmes. This official will by definition be Dutch, as stipulated in the agreements with the Chinese government. The University of Groningen has always considered academic freedom a non-negotiable condition for founding the University of Groningen Yantai. The agreements about academic freedom, unrestricted access to the internet and the governance structure have been set out in a memorandum of understanding.

What is the influence of the University Council on the Yantai plans?

The Participation Councils at the University of Groningen are always involved in the decision-making process. All available information is shared with the relevant Faculty Councils and the University Council. In addition, the Board of the University discusses its plans with the University Council several times a month. The dates of these meetings are listed in an overview. The intention to start a branch campus in Yantai was discussed at length at the University Council meeting of 25 June 2015 and several commitments were made to the University Council during that meeting. On 25 June 2015, the Council agreed to the strategic principle of establishing a branch campus and, more specifically, a branch campus in Yantai. The Board of the University (CvB) has granted the University Council the right of consent to the definitive decision to found a branch campus in Yantai. This has been agreed between the two parties. The CvB attaches great value to grassroots support for the Yantai campus, and has thus decided to convert the right to prior consultation held by the University Council into the right of consent. The CvB and the University Council have informed the Minister of Education, Culture and Science in a joint statement (in Dutch) about this decision.

Decision-making

The decision-making regarding the establishment of a branch campus in Yantai is a careful process with multiple steps. The University of Groningen and China Agricultural University have submitted a joint application to the Chinese Ministry of Education for the establishment of the University of Groningen Yantai (UGY). This application is currently under review. The Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science has prepared a legislative amendment that will create more opportunities for institutions of higher education to provide education abroad. A significant majority of the House of Representatives voted on Thursday 23 February in favour of a change to the Higher Education and Research Act (WHW) to promote internationalization. The Board of the University (CvB) is delighted with the support of the House of Representatives.

The modified Act has been discussed and approved by the Senate on Tuesday 6 June. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science will draw up an Order in Council (AMvB; Algemene Maatregel van Bestuur) that will regulate implementation of the Act. The AMvB has been discussed by the House of Representatives in october. The minister has answered several questions from the House of Representatives. After approval of the AMvB, and after the participation councils and the Supervisory Board have exercised their right of consent, the CvB will make a definitive decision about founding a branch campus in Yantai. A request to this end will be submitted to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science.

The preparations for the campus are already in full swing to allow for swift action after a positive decision. Priority will be given to developing the campus site, setting up a support organization and installing IT facilities. The City of Yantai provides the means to this end. Staff and student recruitment can start after that.

Why has the University of Groningen chosen CAU?

CAU is what is known as a 985 university in China. The 39 best research universities in China belong to this category. Only these universities are permitted to recruit the best Chinese students. CAU is also known as one of the best agricultural universities in the world. This makes it particularly interesting for the University of Groningen, because agrifood is a relevant research area to us. We envisage a lot of opportunities in collaboration in this field. CAU has 2 campuses in Beijing and acquired a 110 hectare campus in Yantai in 2003. You can read more information about CAU on its website.

Signing of the agreement in the presence of HM King of The Netherlands Willem Alexander and President of the Peoples Republic of China Xi Jinping. Copyright ANP
Signing of the agreement in the presence of HM King of The Netherlands Willem Alexander and President of the Peoples Republic of China Xi Jinping. Copyright ANP

Why has CAU chosen the University of Groningen?

The Chinese see the University of Groningen as an interesting partner. We are gaining ground among the international top 100 universities, and already offer a large number of English-taught Bachelor’s degree programmes. CAU wanted a partner fitting this profile to establish a campus in Yantai.

What makes the city of Yantai attractive?

The future University of Groningen Yantai campus is located in the middle of a high-tech zone covering 38 km². It is the home of many high-end industries, companies and research institutes, providing good opportunities for top sector jobs and cooperation in the area of research. In addition, as one of China’s greenest cities, Yantai is a popular tourist destination. It has 7million inhabitants. The climate is pleasant, with conditions similar to the Netherlands. Watch this video about the city and the environment. Yantai is situated in the province of Shandong, whose 97 million inhabitants offer great potential in attracting future students. Shandong province is also an important economic area in China. Read more about this in a recent report of the Netherlands Business Support Office in Qingdao.

How many University of Groningen staff will go to Yantai?

Our aim is the flexible deployment of University of Groningen staff, enabling them to go to Yantai for shorter or longer periods of time. We strive for an international mix of staff in Yantai, with 1/3 coming from the Netherlands, i.e. not exclusively from the UG, 1/3 from China and 1/3 from other countries. We aim to station two Groningen staff members per degree programme in Yantai for a longer period. They will be supplemented by Groningen staff who come to provide support for shorter periods of time. Obviously, Groningen staff members will not be forced: everyone is free to choose whether they want to go to Yantai. While we see this as a great opportunity to gain international experience, the choice is left to each individual staff member. Staff members who want to work in Yantai on a temporary basis will be offered attractive terms of employment.

How will the University of Groningen recruit staff?

We haven’t started recruiting staff yet. Staff will only be selected after consulting with the faculties and service units concerned. We will work with the faculties involved to draw up a recruitment plan to ensure that we have sufficient qualified staff available for the degree programmes in Yantai. An international recruitment agency will be hired to this end.

How will students be recruited?

University of Groningen Yantai (UGY) is responsible for recruiting its own students. UGY will devise a recruitment plan in consultation with the University of Groningen. Students are not being recruited as yet.

Overview of relevant documents

The following section contains an overview of the documents in which the agreements between the UG, China Agricultural University and the city of Yantai have been set out. The documents regarding quality assurance and risk management, drawn up by the University of Groningen itself, are also available.

Introduction Application Transnational Education (in Dutch)
Application Transnational Education (in Dutch)
List of appendixes Application Transnational Education (in Dutch)

The UG Application has been updated in June in line with the Draft Order in Council (AMvB) on Transnational Education, which was open for internet consultation until 21 July 2017. The appendices are attached in a separate document.

Tripartite agreement
Agreement with China Agricultural University and the city of Yantai expressing the intention to establish a branch campus in Yantai. Signed on 25 March 2015 in the presence of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Agreement on establishing University of Groningen Yantai
Agreement with China Agricultural University and the city of Yantai on the funding of the branch campus in Yantai. The agreement was signed on Monday 26 October 2015. King Willem-Alexander and the Chinese President Xi Jinping were among the attendees.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Agreement with China Agricultural University and the city of Yantai securing, among others, academic freedom and unrestricted access to the internet. Agreements on funding are clarfied. Signed in February 2016.
Note that some of the degree programmes mentioned in this document have been replaced with others since, in consultation with the relevant faculties.

Business case, including risk management
Detailed impact analysis and description of risk management. Drawn up by a broad representation of the relevant organizational units at the UG at the behest of the Board of the University. Delivered in September 2016.

Education and Qualifications Covenant
Agreement between the University of Groningen, China Agricultural University and University of Groningen Yantai, in formation, expressing the willingness to guarantee the quality of the academic teaching and research at the University of Groningen Yantai, in formation, according to the legal stipulations that apply to the degree programmes of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Drawn up in October 2016. The covenant contains more up-to-date and clearer wording of the agreements than the MoU.

Factsheet University of Groningen Yantai (in Dutch)
Brief summary of the most important aspects, including a time line of the plan to establish a branch campus in Yantai. Drawn up to support external communication about University of Groningen Yantai.

Overview of University Council meetings
Overview of all meetings since 2015 in which the Board of the University discussed the plans to establish University of Groningen Yantai with the University Council.

Overview of commitments to the University Council
Overview of commitments made by the Board of the University to the University Council regarding the plans to establish University of Groningen Yantai.

Brochure terms of employment
Overview of the terms of employment for staff members who want to work in Yantai.

Joint statement board UG and University Council

Economic overview and opportunities of Shandong Province
Report of the Netherlands Business Support Office in Quingdao about the economic impact of Shandong Province.

Last modified:26 February 2019 09.45 a.m.
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