Netherlands again Listed as Top English-Speaking Country
The Netherlands has topped the EF English Proficiency Index of 2020, making it the country with the best English language skills outside the native English-speaking world. More than 2.2 million people took the test and 100 countries worldwide were ranked. The Netherlands has consistently been in the Top 3 since the Index started in 2011, often occupying the top position. The Top 5 are the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. The countries with the highest scores outside Europe are South Africa and Singapore.
Technology spreads English
The report correlates English proficiency with innovation, saying the two go "hand in hand". It also believes that technology spreads English. "Technology-enabled distance education could one day allow anyone to learn English for a competitive price, wherever they are. While that potential has not yet been fully realised, we’ve found consistent correlations between English proficiency and measures of technology adoption, such as secure servers per capita, information and communication technology (ICT) exports, and broadband subscriptions. Access to English-language media speeds up many people’s learning process too.
Sport in a Global Marketplace – Wittenborg Students get a Masterclass
Professional Dutch Football Manager, Joost de Wit, Shares Experience in Sport Management
Students at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences recently had the honour of a lecture from professional Dutch football manager, Joost de Wit, who has a big footprint in the business of sport in the Netherlands. As guest lecturer, De Wit spoke online to students about sports in the global marketplace and specifically branding in the English Premier League.
De Wit has had an interesting career path: after two years as project manager at PSV Eindhoven, he became CEO at RKC Waalwijk and the club reached the finals of the play-offs for European football, causing quite a sensation. The football industry took notice of De Wit's success and in 2013 he became the CEO of Vitesse Arnhem. Currently, he is working on several international sports consultancy projects, including some within the UEFA ASSIST programme. He also teaches at the Johan Cruyff Institute.
De Wit, who was a semi-professional footballer, said he comes from an entrepreneurial-minded family and that his whole family is engaged in sport. He also invited students to share more about their background and their ties to sport. Many already had a career in the sports industry before coming to study in the Netherlands, and seek to refine their management skills.
Wittenborg CEO on Perks and Challenges of Managing a Multicultural Workforce
Having a multicultural workforce can give you an important competitive edge, but managing diversity takes a lot of skill, according to Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng. Feng recently shared some of the insights she has gleaned over the past two decades about managing diversity in an international institution of higher education.
Feng was a guest lecturer during the "Intercultural Business Communication" class for undergraduates last week. She spoke to students about setting up a family-like culture at an intercultural intensive organisation like Wittenborg and stressed how people's family and cultural background can often play a big role in the type of employee they are. She encouraged students to share how their own background has shaped them.
Wittenborg boasts more than 40 different nationalities among its workforce. "Cultural diversity helps to break down barriers and understand differences, but you still have to work out people's personalities and not just go on culture. Interacting with people in an informal setting like parties is also very telling when you want to learn about their personalities," Feng said.
Being a good listener is key
She cited clear and open communication, including being a good listener and taking note of people's body language as key to understanding them. "Listening skills is something that can make you stand out. Our communication skills have really been tried and tested the past year – whether in a family or work environment."
Wittenborg's Vision to Attract More HE Institutions to Apeldoorn Shaping Up
Ten years after Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences penned a discussion paper on the need to attract more institutions of higher education to Apeldoorn and establish the city as a globally recognised centre of knowledge, the University of Twente (UT) – a public technical university ranked in the world's Top 100 when it comes to engineering and technology – has announced it is opening a campus in Apeldoorn next year.
The discussion paper was penned by Wittenborg President Peter Birdsall. Back then, he argued for the creation of an "Apeldoorn University", allowing various institutions to develop higher education products in line with the needs of supply and demand. "There is a tremendous opportunity for Apeldoorn to promote itself as a centre of expertise and knowledge, both in the Netherlands and on the international stage, and attract students from across the country and the globe," Birdsall notes.
"The campus location would need to be central, close to the railway station and close to the city centre. Its optimal construction would be a complex of institutions linked by student accommodation and student facilities, including libraries, sports and recreation facilities, and that these were within walking distance of the education and learning centres, as well as local and national transport and the city centre itself.
'Recyclables' Team Wins Top Spot
The winning teams of Wittenborg's Sustainable Business Idea Undergraduate Project Week Competition were announced after a tough decision by a 3-member jury. The 'Recyclables' team claimed the top spot while the 'Toy Box' team won second place.
The competition was organised in conjunction with Wittenborg's 'Real Life' Project Week module for Phase 1 and Phase 2 bachelor's students in Block 2 of the 2020-2021 academic year. For the group assignment, students had to come up with innovative business ideas that focused on home-based recycling, or industry-based initiatives. (View the article here). Besides writing a business plan, students had to think of feasible ways of how to finance their business and also record an elevator pitch to present their proposals. Team Recyclables was made up of Thy Bao Tram Nguyen, Mabelle Olympia Jerger, Abdulmohsen Saleh and John Shibu Thomas. Their main idea centred around making mattresses from recycled plastics and grocery bags and distributing them to the homeless community. They proposed that funding will come mainly from donations or contributions from sustainably-driven individuals and philanthropists. The second winning team, 'Toy Box', proposed the idea of collecting and recycling old toys via a subscription-based system. Each recycled toy will be valued, and subscribed members can exchange toys of similar values. This, according to the team's elevator pitch, would reduce the number of discarded toys and instead, provide the option of sharing used toys with other users. The 'Toy Box' team was made up of Chiemeka Raynor, Mohammed Abubaker, Seyedeh Artadokht and Thi Pham.
European Diploma Supplement Attached to Wittenborg Graduates Degree in Future
The degrees of future graduates at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences will include a European Diploma Supplement (EDS) - a standardised document making it easier for employers and other institutions to grasp the value of someone’s qualification by offering a detailed description of the studies completed and the competences acquired.
The Diploma Supplement is an important tool of the European Higher Education Area, ensuring graduates that their degrees are recognised by higher education institutions, public authorities and employers in their home countries as well as abroad. Graduates in all countries taking part in the Bologna Process have the right to receive the Diploma Supplement automatically.
Wittenborg's chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall, said the institution's Education and Examination Guide has been updated in this respect. "Examples of the degrees awarded are now contained in Part 9, and the EDS has been completely re-written and re-worked to give even greater transparency to the value of the degrees, for other educators and employers," Birdsall said.
Netherlands Sees Strong Growth in Number of International Students in 2020 Despite COVID-19
The Netherlands has seen more than a 10% growth in the number of international students despite COVID-19 disrupting education around the world. This is according to preliminary numbers compiled by the Association for Dutch Universities (VSNU). It is largely due to an increase in students from the EEA (all EU students, plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland).
In total, the number of students who signed up for bachelor's and master's programmes at Dutch universities this year was 328,000 - an increase of 8% - which includes both Dutch and international students.
The VSNU says the rise in student numbers stems in part from the 15% increase in the number of first-year students who are no longer able to take a gap year because of coronavirus. In addition, there has been a 10% increase in the number of college students signing up for a pre-master’s university course.
The number of EEA students streaming into the Netherlands increased by between 10 – 12% compared to last year, while there was a drop in the number of students from outside the EU. "It is great that international students continue wanting to study in the Netherlands despite the corona crisis. In 2019, the Central Bureau of Statistics found that international students are still a benefit to the Netherlands even after graduating," the VSNU statement reads.
Netherlands 2nd Most Popular Study Destination for Germans
The Netherlands is the most popular study destination for German students after Austria, according to new numbers released by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies. The study looks, among other things, at where Germany sources its international students from, but also at where German students go when they study abroad.
Currently, German-speaking Austria is the country of choice for German students (25%), followed by the Netherlands (16%), the UK (11%) and Switzerland (10%). It is expected that due to Brexit the number of outbound German students to the UK will decline - possibly benefitting other countries, including the Netherlands.
At the same time, while the numbers of German students in Switzerland and the Netherlands decreased slightly between 2014 – 2017 (–2% in each case), for the UK (+ 3%) and especially Austria (+ 7%) there was an increase over the same period.
What programmes do Germans choose when they do study abroad? In the Netherlands, as in such countries as Australia, Ireland, Spain and Portugal, the most popular programmes are economics, business administration and law - as opposed to eastern European countries like Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic where health and social affairs studies are popular. This is possibly due to the admissions restrictions for medical courses which exist in Germany.
Wittenborg CEO Encourages New Students in Welcoming Note
After an intense week of Introduction Week activities, new students from 10 different countries are starting their classes at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences. The university held an online meet-and-greet session at the end of last week to engage with other students and members of staff. The session was also joined by Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng, who spoke a few words of encouragement.
Excitement about starting their studies abounded during the session. The new students are from Cameroon, Nigeria, China, Vietnam, Iran, India, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Liberia and Morocco. About half of the new students will start their study journey from abroad due to limitations caused by COVID-19, while the rest will follow the current hybrid teaching policy at Wittenborg.
Provisional numbers from the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) have shown that this academic year has seen an increase of about 10% in international students studying in the Netherlands despite COVID-19. There has been a slight drop in students from outside the EU, though this is not reflected at Wittenborg.
Last week, students joined in a full programme of Introduction Week activities, which covered all aspects of their forthcoming academic journeys at Wittenborg – from doing academic papers, research, and ICT to online studies.
In her welcoming note, Feng encouraged students to make full use of their studies at Wittenborg to network as far and wide as possible, and also to be active in community service when they are in the Netherlands like volunteering. "Be nice. Being nice will get you places."
Wittenborg Seeks to Boost Women in Tech with MBA Fee Reduction
Women who underestimate their achievements and often score themselves lower than what they actually deserve was one of the topics raised by Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng in a recent interview with Dutch regional newspaper De Stentor. The article was part of a series of how Dutch companies are faring in terms of female representivity at the top in light of a quota for women considered by the Dutch government.
"A woman functioning as an 8 will often score herself a 6. Men on the other hand, do the opposite. As director it is good to have these sort of insights," Feng said. To make its own contribution to bringing more women in fields where they are a scarcity, Wittenborg intends on giving a fee reduction of €5,000 for girls wishing to follow its MBA in Data Analytics. Technology is still one of the industries that sorely lacks females.
So how is Wittenborg doing in terms of gender equality? Of its three directors, two are female – Feng and Wittenborg's Director of Corporate Governance, Karen Penninga. Peter Birdsall is the President and Chair of the Executive Board. Directly under them is a management team consisting of 6 women and 6 men. The Academic Advisory Panel is also gender balanced with 5 men and 5 women.
Of the 245 people who worked at Wittenborg in 2019, 41% are female and 59% are male. "This is mainly due to the fact that at the top of some academic disciplines there are more men than women. And obviously we want the best lecturers."
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