Groningen University plans to open a campus in Yantai, China with first year students beginning their degree courses in 2018, Trouw reported on Monday.
‘China’s potential is huge. It is second only to the US in financing scientific research,’ said Stephan van Galen who is closely involved with the development of Groningen’s China campus.
The University of Groningen Yantai, as it is called, will be one of 10 international joint universities in China in which the Chinese government cannot officially interfere. Students will be allowed Facebook and Twitter accounts and graduates will receive a Dutch degree at the end of their course.
Other foreign universities in the scheme include Liverpool and Nottingham universities in Britain, Duke, New York University and Kean from the US, Technion university in Israel and Lomonosoc Moscow State University. After Brexit, Groningen will be the only university in the EU with a presence in China.
China spends 2.1% of its GDP on R&D while the Netherlands allots only 0.74% to university research. Innovation ranks high in China’s goals as it seeks to replace its rust-belt industries.
Groningen’s campus in China will not cost Dutch taxpayers one cent, Trouw says. Designed for an agricultural school that did not settle in Yantai, the lecture theatres and student flats are already in place and a R&D lab is under construction.
The Dutch government and the university council still must approve the plans. ‘We are going ahead as if the project has received the green light. Otherwise it could take years,’ said university president Sibrand Poppema.
There are some objections to the plans from student and academic organisations who fear for the loss of academic freedom. Bart Beijer, who represents the academics, said: ‘We teach our students to exchange their thoughts freely. And I wonder if this is possible in China.’
However, he said he heard only positive reactions from New York and Liverpool universities which already have Chinese campuses.