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For this Episode, number 32 in the series of University Registrars Talking About Stuff, I had the privilege of talking about stuff to Stephan van Galen of Groningen University in the Netherlands. We caught up for an in person (in person!) chat at recent HUMANE Winter School where both of us were presenting case studies on our universities and their approaches to internationalisation.
We naturally began with Stephan's career history before moving on to the value of the HUMANE Winter School and its wider network which brings heads of administration together from across Europe and helps professional services staff interact and learn from each other and understand better our shared challenges.
The powerful Winter School model which is based on case studies, includes an examination of the Groningen experience of seeking to open a campus in Yantai in Shandong Province in China and why it ultimately did not happen, primarily because of the change in the political situation and increasing tension between the US and China which also impacted on the Netherlands.
After this experience the University had to recover and with a new President sought to focus on its local roots in the region and began to look at its international strategy afresh. Groningen has been around for over 400 years and recruited internationally throughout with more and more programmes now delivered in English. Student recruitment has been buoyant this year at Groningen and, whilst UK student numbers were expected to drop, they didn't and there was also a big increase in applications from the rest of the EU, causing a major student housing challenge in the city.
We also discussed, of course, Groningen's Covid response and agreed that the speed of the switch to online learning was really fast and impressive across universities. In terms of the future Stephan sees continued worldwide demand for high quality education the delivery of which can be amplified, rather than replaced, by online provision.
It's a great conversation and I do hope you enjoy another international offering of University Registrars Talking About Stuff.