‘Staff support for Yantai is crucial’
These issues were identified in the business plan drawn up by the university. This is the first time that the university has taken stock of the dangers facing the start of a campus in China.
The plan was drawn up in early September and was part of a confidential University Council meeting last week. The council will probably have to give their definitive recommendation about whether the RUG should start the Yantai venture at the end of this month.
According to the business plan which was drawn up by employees at the Office of the university and the faculties of spatial sciences, economy and business (FEB), and mathematics and natural sciences (FMNS), the campus’ success mainly depends on the amount of support among students and staff.
‘Disquiet and a lack of clarity can undermine the confidence in the university board and the deans involved’, according to the report.
Lack of information
Employees at FMNS and FEB have been complaining for months about the lack of information. FEB, which was first in line to set up programmes in China, dropped out in early February because doubts within the faculty about the lack of detailed plans could not be adequately assuaged.
That is exactly why the business plan calls on the university board and the faculty boards ‘to clearly communicate and mitigate potential consequences of UGY for staff. This is essential as insufficient support is a strong risk factor.’
According to the university board, that is why the University Council was so well informed of the plans, and the parties have had ample opportunity to ask their questions and put forward their concerns. ‘After all, the university council voted in favour of opening the campus’, according to the report.
The personnel parties do not quite agree. They said they felt passed over after the vote, because the plan carried by a majority of the students present.
The business plan also states that the university quickly needs to get started recruiting sufficient qualified personnel. But the RUG says that that will not be a problem.
Surveys conducted among personnel at the faculties involved asking employees if they were willing to work in Yantai apparently showed that people are ‘really enthusiastic’ about the plans. ‘More than enough employees have indicated that they want to participate’, according to the report. A selection will ensure that a sufficient number – but not too many employees – will be leaving for Yantai.
Moreover, hiring employees for the Chinese campus will be easy due to ‘the amount of PhD and post doctoral candidates looking for employment’, according to the university.
Facilities will also be crucial to the campus, according to the report. Accommodations and an IT network have to be finished on time. But the university believes that there is ample time for that. ‘Entire handbooks concerning the standards the university uses to develop infrastructure have been translated into English and Chinese. RUG experts frequently talk to the specialists at the sister university and the city of Yantai.’
The research building and the laboratories will be finished when the first RUG classes in Yantai start in September 2018, the university promises.