The University of Groningen Supervisory Board asked Leendert Klaassen to commission an independent investigation into the justification of the hours spent preparing for the Yantai branch campus in China. Independent bureau Ecorys carried out this investigation and has produced its report. The Supervisory Board and the Board of the University have concluded that more hours must be charged to the UG’s private resources than initially budgeted. Ecorys has included various schemes. The University has opted for the maximum compensation scheme. The total amount to be compensated is € 669,000, which will be transferred from the UG’s private resources to the UG’s public reserve in 2018.
Chair of the Supervisory Board Tjibbe Joustra: “The research was carried out thoroughly and gives a good overview of the situation. The Supervisory Board will adopt the conclusions and recommendations, taking into account the nuances made.”
Chair of the Board of the University, Jouke de Vries: ‘The plans for a branch campus in Yantai have sparked debate and caused turmoil. When I took office, I indicated that we would accelerate the phasing-out of the Yantai project and review our China policy. Any ongoing project team activities at the faculties of Science & Engineering and Spatial Sciences have now been terminated. This is an important step towards closing this file.’
The UG will thus adopt the recommendations of the report. The University previously acted on the basis of the information and advice available from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science between 2015 and 2017. Precisely to prevent any suspicion of irregularities afterwards, the UG asked the Ministry for advice beforehand. Ecorys concludes that there are still no clear guidelines for accounting for private activities, such as the Yantai branch campus, despite the fact that former Minister Bussemaker stated that clarification of the regulations is needed.
However, the UG does not want to wait any longer and has created clarity itself by opting for the maximum private funding scheme, in which, for example, the hours spent on meetings with consultative participation bodies and discussions between the Board of the University and faculty boards will also be privately funded. The UG intends to account for this in its 2018 financial statements. The University Council has been informed of the report’s findings and has been given the opportunity to ask questions concerning the report to the independent research and consultancy agency Ecorys, the Supervisory Board and the Board of the University.
The trigger for the investigation was concern within the University Council about the time registration regarding the plans for a branch campus in Yantai. The Ecorys report has achieved clarity about accountability.
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