Council wants proof of ‘Yantai hours’
Henk Jan Wondergem announced this Wednesday during a meeting with the Lower House committee on Education, Culture, and Science (OCW). The OCW committee held an open meeting about internationalisation of higher education.
Wondergem talked about the decision-making process concerning the branch campus the RUG wanted to open in the Chinese city of Yantai. He said it was an example of ‘how not to go about internationalisation’. ‘The university council was treated as an opponent rather than a partner. And there is still information that hasn’t been made public.’
The parties on the university council formed a special committee to study the Yantai plans: the Scholten committee. This committee suspects that staff may have been pressured to not claim expenses for hours they worked on preparing the branch campus.
‘If that’s true, that means these working hours were paid for with public funds’, says Wondergem. And that’s not allowed, since the government and the RUG had agreed that only private funds would be used for Yantai. ‘We have access to documents that lead us to strongly suspect that the registration of working hours didn’t go the way it was supposed to.’
But these documents are confidential. ‘We want to be able to have an open discussion about this, so we want the documents to be made public’, says Wondergem. ‘If need be, we’ll go through the Lower House, who will hopefully be able to influence the process.’
Student movement DAG, which is also on the council, requested the registration of hours be made public through the Government Information (Public Access) Act, but failed. Members of the personnel faction have also requested the documents be made public.
RUG spokesperson Gernant Deekens explains that ‘due to privacy concerns, we can’t do this. There is information in these registration documents that can be easily connected to people.’
The board of directors is sticking to its decision to not make the registration documents public, says Deekens. ‘According to the Government Information (Public Access) Act they are not public, so the board sees no reason to make them.’
Deekens says the council need not worry. ‘There is no reason to think that the registration is circumspect. The educational inspectorate has checked our bookkeeping and said they have found no deficiencies.’
‘That may be so’, Wondergem responds. ‘It’s possible that the information I was given was incorrect. But at least show me proof of the lack of deficiencies.’