The Board of the University has appointed Prof. Hans van Ees as Dean of University College Groningen, which is currently being developed. Van Ees, professor of Corporate Governance and Institutions at the Faculty of Economics and Business, will start on 1 April 2013 for the period until 1 September 2017. University College Groningen is scheduled to open its doors to its first students in September 2014. The establishment of a University College fits into the Performance Agreements that the University of Groningen has made with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
University College Groningen will provide teaching in the ‘liberal arts and sciences’, a teaching concept that has been adopted from the Anglo-Saxon world and was introduced to the Netherlands a few years ago. The Netherlands currently has eight university colleges, which together welcome approximately 1200 new students each year.
University colleges are Bachelor’s degree programmes that start from a broad base. The University College Groningen will offer course units from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and medical sciences, concentrating on the themes Healthy Ageing, Energy and Sustainable Society. Central elements of the degree programme will include a cohort system and community building, and the emphasis will be on academic development. Towards the end of the programme the course units will become more in-depth and students will follow a specialization that will grant access to a Master's degree programme.
University College Groningen is scheduled to welcome its first cohort of 100 first-year students in 2014 – the year in which the University of Groningen will celebrate its 400th anniversary. Student recruitment will start this year. The University College will use a strict selection procedure. About half of all students should be international, which may also mean prospective students who attended an international school in the Netherlands or abroad.
The appointment of the new Dean is by no means the first step that the University of Groningen has taken in the process of establishing its University College – a curriculum committee with representatives from the various faculties has been preparing a programme proposal for some time, and committees have also been active in arranging financial matters and embedding the University College into the existing University structure.
Next year a programme of administrative applications will follow to request approval from the Ministry for the new degree programme and for the selection procedure.
‘All this means that we have to start at full speed’, says the new Dean. In addition to all the arrangements that have to be made, he will also have to spend a lot of time on shaping the character of the degree programme. ‘The idea is that students must be able to choose for themselves what they want to do during the programme’, Van Ees emphasizes. ‘They must be given the opportunity to design their own programme, to take risks and to start something that may well fail.’ He is very enthusiastic: ‘I consider it a great honour to be appointed to this position. What could be more rewarding than to work on something that will last?’
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