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Information about branch campus Yantai

04 November 2015
International students in Groningen

The University of Groningen will 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, Shandong province, from 2016. 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 campus will attract talented students, top researchers and high-profile research projects, all of which will ultimately generate funding.

We want to offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programmes with significant research activities and collaboration with businesses. These activities will also strengthen the collaboration between Yantai and the northern Netherlands. After a preparation year in 2016, Chinese and international students will be able to start University of Groningen degree programmes and will be awarded University of Groningen degree certificates. This will also provide great opportunities for students from Groningen to gain international experience in China, as well as significant work opportunities for Dutch academics.

What has drawn the University of Groningen to China?

An international branch campus would transform the UG from an international university to a global university. Since the UG would plan to make a branch campus research intensive, it would also make it attractive for scientists wishing to continue their career in Asia in the research environment of a European university. This would create attractive internship positions for UG students and postdocs and tenure track positions for young scientists.

The Campus would also present staff at the UG the opportunity to work for a period of time in a different environment for a sabbatical leave. Finally, the research facilities might allow for collaboration with Dutch, International and Asian companies, that might wish to have their research and development performed in an environment that would safeguard Intellectual Property.

The campus would host international students that might be selected to exchange with Groningen, whereas students of UG might exchange to the branch campus in a safe and attractive environment and with the guarantee that the credits would be automatically recognized. This would make the UG more attractive for Dutch and European students that are interested in an Asian experience.

This would make the UG more attractive for Dutch and European students that are interested in an Asian experience. Also, the branch campus would be a great opportunity to start concepts like the International Classroom, Electronic Learning and Communities right from the start.

From 2020 demographics in the Netherlands and Europe as a whole will result in smaller cohorts of 18 year olds and give the developments in high school enrolment it is not likely that a higher proportion of 18 year olds will pursue a university education.

As a consequence, Dutch universities will have reduced enrolments of Dutch and EER students and therefor lower tuition income and government funding.


The latest University of Groningen enrolment figures show the dire importance of internationalization. In the 2015/2016 academic year, almost 10% fewer first-year students enrolled in the propaedeutic year. Fewer students means less money, less money means fewer staff, fewer staff means less research funding, and less research funding means even fewer staff. It soon becomes a downward spiral. So we need international students. Not necessarily to make the University bigger, but to stop it from getting any smaller.

Also, there is a general perception that the number of international students, especially from Asia and Africa will increase, but at the same time the competition from universities in other European and Anglo-Saxon countries will increase, whereas also countries like China increasingly welcome international students. Notably, the USA has recently decided to aim for a doubling of the number of international students and countries like Germany, France, Spain, Italy as well as the Scandinavian countries are rapidly increasing the number of English language courses, whereas many of these have advantages over the Netherlands in terms of lower or absent tuition fees, reputation etc.


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 the research facilities for 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 and equipment of the campus’s research facilities, as well as budget deficits for the first three years. The agreement was signed on Monday 26 October. 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. That is what makes this branch campus stand out from others.

Over the last few months several multinationals have expressed concrete interest in the UG’s plans and allocated money for research.

Organisation University of Groningen Yantai

The University of Groningen Yantai is a Chinese legal entity with the official legal status of an Independent International Joint University. In Europe, we refer to this as a branch campus, but it is really a separate legal entity. No money from the University of Groningen, or from the Dutch taxpayers, is going to China. The branch campus is financed by the city of Yantai and by students who enrol in programmes at UGY in China. Research is partially funded by companies (some of them Dutch) that want to work alongside the University of Groningen in China, and partially by the city of Yantai.

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

We are going to start with 4 Bachelor’s programmes and 2 Master’s programmes from the faculties of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Economics and Business. They are the Bachelor’s degree programmes in Chemistry, Industrial Engineering & Management, Life Sciences & Technology and Economics & Business Economics. The Master’s degree programmes will be Chemical Engineering and International Economics & Business. 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 gradually 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. For example, if something goes wrong with a degree programme in Yantai such that accreditation is endangered, this may not have consequences for accreditation in Groningen. The reverse is also true. It is therefore crucially important that we make hard and fast agreements about separate accreditation for the degree programmes in Groningen and Yantai. We are currently in discussions with NVAO and the Ministry of OCW to make agreements about this.

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. This was one of the main conditions agreed between the University of Groningen and CAU. We are in charge on the campus. These are our programmes. If academic freedom cannot be guaranteed, the plans will not go on.

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

The participation councils at the University of Groningen have been (and still are)involved in every step of the decision-making process. All the available information is shared with the Faculty Councils and the University Council. In addition, the Board of the University meets the University Council several times a month to discuss this plan.

During the UR committee meeting of 18 June 2015, the Branch Campus Yantai issue was discussed extensively. The aim was to find a link to consultative participation, primarily concerning the decision-making process, participation rights and finally the content of the plan under negotiation for a Branch Campus in Yantai. The parties received a lot of information based on their questions, had the opportunity to express their concerns and to formulate their standpoints before the UR on 25 June 2015. The minutes of the UR on 25 June will follow. On the basis of the information available from the UR and the CvB, the promises made by the CvB will be set out in more detail so that the promises made to the various faculty councils can be kept.

  1. The promises will be communicated to the faculty councils.
  2. The UG is not running any direct financial risks given the fact that no UG resources, financial or other, are being invested in UGY. The WHW states that no direct government funding may be invested.
  3. The UR’s right to prior consultation in the event of major changes to the current plan.
  4. The right to prior consultation on GO/NO GO after approval by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
  5. The right to prior consultation on the appointment of a Vice Chancellor of UGY.
  6. The opinions of the faculty councils, if negative, must be substantiated and if necessary rejected and substantiated by the relevant faculty boards.
  7. UG students will be able to go on exchange to UGY for Dutch tuition fees.
  8. The relevant faculty boards (i.e. the deans) have access to all information, including confidential information, provided to the University Council and are free to use their own judgement about sharing this information with the relevant faculty councils. The CvB is in favour of involving consultative participation at an early stage and keeping the relevant bodies informed, whether or not in confidence.
  9. In the light of the ‘Harmoniemodel’ (the voluntary open and cooperative partnership between the UR and the CvB), the UR will always be involved in the decision-making process. This applies to all contacts, both official and unofficial.
  10. Several information meetings will continue to be organized for the involved faculties, the University and its staff and students.
  11. Representatives of the student parties will inform students in cooperation with the Communication Office and keep them up to date.
  12. The faculties and degree programmes will continue to control the intake of foreign and Dutch students to UG degree programmes.
  13. The synchronization of UGY programmes after changes to UG programmes will be further developed. UGY programmes will be identical to UG programmes.
  14. The recruitment of staff for UGY and existing vacancies within the relevant faculties will be scaled up and diversified. The staff must be of at least the same quality and the same quality requirements will apply. The transfer of staff to Yantai may not result in a reduction in teaching quality and the number of staff transferring will be limited to what is absolutely necessary for UGY programmes. The recruitment and working in of new staff will be started in good time.
  15. Separate accreditation for the University of Groningen and UGY – the University is currently in discussions with OCW and NVAO/other accreditation institutes. This is how the University of Groningen intends to guarantee the quality of the teaching in Groningen. Quality assurance there will be the same as in Groningen, the role of the Boards of Examiners will be fleshed out further and one person from the University of Groningen will sit on the UGY Boards of Examiners.

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 top 2% of 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 one of the spearheads in our strategic plan. We envisage a lot of opportunities in collaboration in this field.

Why has CAU chosen the University of Groningen?

The Chinese see the University of Groningen as a valuable 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.

Why Yantai?

The future University of Groningen Yantai is located in the middle of a high-tech zone covering 38 km². This zone is the base for high-quality industry and numerous 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 1.8 million inhabitants. Wine has been made in the region for more than 100 years. The climate is pleasant and similar to conditions in the Netherlands.

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 want to have an international mix of staff in Yantai. The aim is to have 1/3 from Groningen, 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.

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. In the autumn of this year 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.

University of Groningen staff who go to Yantai for short period will do so on a secondment basis. In the case of staff who go to Yantai for longer periods, we will have look into the best arrangement for them. We will draw up an expat policy in which fiscal regulations will be taken into account. The policy will be based on current conditions of employment. Newly recruited staff for Yantai will be employed by UGY.

There is no obligation for Groningen staff to go. Everyone is free to decide for themselves whether they wish to go to Yantai. We see it as an excellent opportunity to gain international experience, but the decision is down to the individual staff member.

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.

Last modified:31 March 2020 2.53 p.m.
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