As a sequel to his well-received travelogue/guide to the distilleries of Scotland, “Whisky Burn”, published by Wittenborg University Press, Ben Birdsall is set to embark upon the ‘sequel’ – the distilleries of Ireland.
Where are you going this time?
Mid July, I am taking a clockwise, more or less coastal route from Dublin to Dublin, passing through some of the most important cities, like Cork, Limerick, Galway, Belfast, (are there any others?) and back to Dublin again. 1,600km, I think, which should take about three weeks.
How are you travelling?
The only way to travel – by Vespa! I’m shipping my trusty 1979 50cc to Dublin on a pallet, then flying in and collecting it the day I start the trip. I often get asked why I don’t just hire a car, well, the answer to that is it wouldn’t be the same. I’ve been making Vespa trips like this for years now, in Italy, Switzerland, last time in Scotland, and now Ireland, so it has become a sort of tradition. Also, I paint landscapes along the way and the Vespa suits me in two ways for that – I can park up pretty much anywhere, and it goes so slowly (max. 42 kmph) that I don’t miss anything. I always bring along a tent, so accommodation is never a problem.
How successful has the first book been?
Wittenborg’s main partner-institute, the University of Brighton in the UK, has been awarded a silver rating for the quality of its teaching in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
The TEF is a government-backed assessment of undergraduate teaching quality across all higher education institutions in England and also includes some institutions in Scotland and Wales.
Wittenborg – which is partially British-owned – started its official collaboration with Brighton in 2011 when it announced plans to offer three Master of Science programmes in partnership with Brighton. These are the MSc in International Hospitality Management, International Event Management and International Tourism Management which were offered from September 2012.
Today it also offers an MSc in Sport Business Management in conjunction with Brighton. Students will therefor earn a double degree upon graduation – a Dutch and British degree. Modules are taught by lecturers from both institutions and students annually make a weeklong trip in the Spring to visit the Brighton campus.
Wittenborg and Brighton also offer a joint Bachelor in Hospitality Management (BHM) and a Bachelor in Entrepreneurial Business Administration (EBA). For both students will earn a double degree upon completion of their studies.
Dutch universities are one step closer to offering full degree programmes abroad after the Transnational Education Bill was approved in the Dutch Senate (Eerste Kamer). It sailed through the House of Representatives in February this year.
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences is one of the institutes planning to open its first transnational campus – in Vienna, Austria – later this year.
The idea behind the proposed legislation is to promote internationalism in higher education. Outgoing minister of higher education, Jet Bussemaker, promised senators that the bill would be subject to evaluation every five years to see if its intentions are still on the right track.
The Socialist Party (SP) and Geert Wilders’ PVV registered their objections against the draft law. SP fears commercial gain is the motivation behind its proposal and, together with Groen Links, seeks more clarity on its necessity and wider value.
The detail and general conditions of the proposed legislation is expected to be published after the summer. It will address the question of what institutions will do with the profits gleaned from programmes offered abroad. It will also touch on matters such as quality, anticipated financial risks, academic freedom in countries where freedom of speech is limited (or where there is no full access to internet data), as well as the wisdom of offering degrees in countries with questionable track records of human rights.
Dutch research universities currently offer more than 240 international joint and double-degree programmes, according to a research paper by Dr Rosa Becker, a senior researcher at the Netherlands Organisation for Internationalisation of Education (EP-Nuffic), published by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education. Universities of applied sciences, like Wittenborg, offer an estimated eight double-degree programmes with at least one foreign partner.
Any international university, or college, must have strong support systems for its international students coming to study abroad, or local students going for a period of study or work placement in another country.
But it doesn’t just end there – international institutions often provide deep support and assistance to their international visitors, just as they are the main base for their local students going out to study or work in a foreign land.
International students often need in depth information and help in all sorts of areas, from housing, to filling in official forms, from opening a bank account to applying for a visa, from medical insurance to health and dental care.
Sometimes, but very rarely, help is required in an ultimate health care decision, as was the case of Wittenborg’s Chinese student Debbie Kuang (1979-2012).
Yesterday, Wittenborg’s Maggie Feng, Peter Birdsall and former business lecturer Henry Muusz, whose family helped care for her, visited Debbie’s grave at the cemetery in Epe, which they maintain.
Beijing Dongcheng Vocational University, based in the Dongcheng district of China's capital city is predominantly focused on adult learning and also hosts the local Community College as well as the local branch of the Beijing Open University.
With a population of over 1 million, Dongcheng district covers the eastern half of Beijing's urban core, the 'Old City' (around 40 km2).
Wittenborg University directors Peter Birdsall and Maggie Feng (CEO) were given a tour of the facilities of its main campus building, before having a discussion on possible collaboration with the institutes President, Professor Zhang Yannong, and Associate Professor Jin Yan.
On Tuesday Wittenborg University (of Applied Sciences) directors Peter Birdsall and Maggie Feng paid a visit to the Netherlands Education Support Office (Neso) China at its headquarters in Beijing. They met Neso director Charles Hoedt and his team to discuss the promotion of Dutch higher education in China, and specifically the special promotion of universities of applied sciences, a system of professional higher education which is almost unique to many of the germanic countries of Europe.
Wittenborg learned that Neso China works hard to promote the Netherlands as a study destination, in what is an ever increasingly competitive market for a highly knowledgeable student body looking for their studies abroad. According to Maggie Feng, "gone are the days when institutes can travel to China and expect agents to send them 'batches of students'. Chinese students are much better equipped with language skills and knowledge of their possible study destinations than ever before, and organisations like Neso in Beijing help institutes better position themselves in a difficult market."
After the meeting, Wittenborg's Chair, Peter Birdsall said 'We were very impressed by the data shown at Neso, and Charles and his team are doing a great job at promoting Dutch higher education across China. What is clear is that the market will get tougher in the future, especially with China itself providing more higher quality graduate degrees and having its own very clear internationalisation agenda.'
Wittenborg currently has around 8% of all Chinese students studying at a University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, however many of its students are final year and post graduate degree students, entering the university from other programmes, and therefore not directly recruited in China.
The university has strong links with China, as it's CEO, Maggie Feng is from Beijing where she grew up and attended Beijing University of Technology, before coming to the Netherlands as an exchange student, in 1999.
by J.P Wedgewood
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences has taken the first step towards gaining accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) – an American professional organization focused on advancing business education.
More than 112,000 international students studied in the Netherlands during the 2016-17 academic year – the highest number ever recorded in the country’s history. Of these, 72% (81,392) were enrolled for a full Bachelor or Master degree programme.
These figures are contained in the latest report on incoming student mobility from Nuffic, the Dutch agency for internationalisation in higher education. The 81,392 degree students came from 164 different nationalities – they mark both the highest total and the highest absolute annual growth in the number of students (6,163).
At Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, international students make up 89% of the student body.
International degree students are estimated to contribute €1,57 billion annually to the Dutch treasury. Also, they are generally thought to contribute to the Netherlands' knowledge economy through research, innovation and easier transnational cooperation.
Wittenborg Clinches Deal with 5 Institutes of Higher Education during Successful Trade Mission to China
In a recent trade mission to China, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences made agreements with no less than 5 institutes of higher education, and played a major facilitating role in opening more doors for cooperation between China and the Netherlands.
One of the big talking points was about establishing a train connection between Hubei province in China and the Gelderland province in Holland using the Betuwe route, a double-track freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany.
The weeklong trade mission focused on education and sport. Wittenborg was represented by its CEO, Maggie Feng. The trade mission consisted of Michiel Scheffer, D66 member of Gelderland’s provincial executive, Apeldoorn councillor Alderman Johan Kruithof and representatives from the Full Sports Group (FSG).
The Dutch Applauded for Voting "Sensibly" - Now Comes the Hard Bargaining to Form a Coalition Government
All hail the Dutch! The Netherlands woke up as the darling of Europe this morning after yesterday’s election results showed a clear win for the centre-right VVD party, thereby defeating Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam and anti-EU PVV, which has been leading the polls for most of the year.
“Far-right populism has failed its first test in Europe,” CNN reported in reference to the coming elections in France and Germany later this year, summing up the sentiments of most of the world’s mainstream media. Many feared that Holland would go the same way as Britain voting pro-Brexit last year and the Americans electing Donald Trump as president.
About 81% of the country voted – the biggest turnout in 3 decades. The VVD won 33 seats, trailed by the PVV (20), the CDA (19), D66 (19) and Groenlinks (14) – they were the big winners of the day. Many of Wittenborg’s staff and students who were eligible to vote made sure they showed up at the voting stations. Wittenborg's facility officer, Karel van der Zande, said it is a privilege to vote in freedom and the turnout was remarkable. "We have conservatives, progressives and some populists, but the new government has to look out for the interest of everyone in the Netherlands. I do have some concern that the new government might be too much on the right."
“Sense and sobriety triumphed,” said Wittenborg’s chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall, in reaction to the results. "Wittenborg's management is relieved that the Netherlands has rejected the anti-immigration and anti-Europe views of Geert Wilders and that the international future of the country and Wittenborg looks positive and ready to develop."
Keep on Moving