Wittenborg writer Ben Birdsall’s book Whisky Burn drew lots of interest at the international Whisky Live 2017 Fair in The Hague this weekend, attended by thousands of whisky lovers.
The event took place at the Grote Kerk in The Hague. Birdsall had a stand alongside one of Holland’s, if not the world's, top whisky writers, Hans Offringa. “It was a great opportunity to connect with readers and network with people who share my passion for whisky. I really valued the experience,” Birdsall said of the event.
Whisky Burn Distilleries of Scotland by Vespa – the Highlands and Islands chronicles Birdsall’s travels in Scotland visiting more than 40 of its well-known distilleries. The book was published by Wittenborg University Press (WUP) in 2015 and is slowly but surely finding its stride among whisky connoisseurs around the world. “Sales are picking up and we are continuously exploring new markets,” said Wittenborg’s chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall.
WUP has teamed up with Whiskyboeken.nl – an online bookseller who was also at the fair - to promote Whisky Burn. Wittenborg also wants to expand the brand Whisky Burn by offering whisky tastings and other products.
In the meantime, Birdsall has just finished the first draft of his second whisky book – the result of visits to existing and upcoming Irish whisky distilleries over the summer, again on his trusty Vespa. He expects the book will be published by the summer of 2018, after it has been proofread and designed. “The second book shares the same format as the first, but the writing process has been very different. With the first one I was something of a novice, while with the second I had more experience and was also able to take into consideration the feedback I got from readers of the first book.”
How does Irish whisky compare with Scottish whisky? “We should not regard it as one competing against the other,” Birdsall says. “I like to think Irish whisky is complementing Scottish whisky, which has been brewed for more than 200 years, while most Irish whisky is still comparatively unknown. Generally, I think Irish whisky could have a considerable catchment area, with its approachable, sweet and floral lightness.”
Who are the biggest consumers of whisky in the world? “The French, the Americans and the British.” At this weekend’s whisky festival he was impressed with the quality of the Dutch whisky on offer compared with what it was some years ago. “They are clearly learning to produce good whisky!”
Meeting customers at The Hague fair also gave him an insight into his target market. “Aside from people who genuinely love and want to learn more about whisky, there are also those who like buying whisky books for their spouses, relatives or friends as a great Christmas gift.”
As a future project, Birdsall is keen to explore the possibility of touring the Japanese whisky distilleries, which is a fast-growing sector of the market.
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press
The Netherlands has just completed a whole week of events to celebrate its international students. "The Week of the International Student' lasted from 13 – 17 November.
And that is no surprise given that they are everywhere – more than 100 000 non-Dutch students studying in Holland this year for the first time in the Netherlands' history, as Nuffic’s director-general Freddy Weima pointed out last week at the 30th anniversary gala of Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences.
At Wittenborg there is even more reason to celebrate as it is one of the most international institutes of higher education in the Netherlands. Currently there are people from more than 80 different nationalities studying and working at Wittenborg’s 3 locations: Apeldoorn, Amsterdam and Vienna. For the past 3 years there has been more than 100 different nationalities passing through its revolving doors of learning.
The beauty of it all was on show at the gala where international students were asked to dress in their country’s traditional attire. Ahead of the Gala Wittenborg also made a video showing the diversity of its students and staff.
Here are a few cool facts about international study in the Netherlands:
- The Netherlands boasts the highest number of English-taught programmes in continental Europe
- In the Netherlands you can start your studies in September and often in February – at Wittenborg there are even 6 entrée dates per year!
- It is in the Top 10 of countries that prepare students best for their future career
- If you are a student or a researcher you are allowed to start your own company – even students from outside the EU.
- The Dutch has some of the best ICT skills in Europe and a high internet access rate
- The Netherlands was ranked the 4th most competitive economy in the world
- Dutch workers are the happiest in Europe
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press
"Equality and internationalisation is the norm, not the exception at Wittenborg," the university's chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall, said at its 30th anniversary gala this weekend.
Birdsall thanked the university's multi-cultural staff who are as diverse as its international student body and said their drive and dedication is what moves the institution forward.
"A higher education institute such as ours - with a focus on management - is not made through prestigious scientific advances or competing with the country’s best and most acclaimed universities. It is made by people. Normal people studying, learning and working together in an exciting and diverse environment, embracing internationalisation, equality and an ethical way of being, not as the exception but as the norm. We can excel in this way."
Birdsall recounted some of the highlights of Wittenborg’s early years. “The seeds of our internationalisation were sown in the 1990s in Deventer, and coupled with the entrepreneurship of higher education, led to the exciting but sometimes bumpy ride that many of us providing English-taught higher education degrees have faced.”
“We learnt that a good student experience was one of the most important aspects of study abroad, notwithstanding the study programme, and we were determined to try and provide this in every way we could.
"I am so pleased that a number of the first graduates of 2005 are here today, Michael having travelled here from Shanghai and Alex from Hong Kong, where they both enjoy good lives and hold good jobs.
In 2010, Wittenborg moved from Deventer to Apeldoorn, forming a close relationship with the municipality of the city over the years. Today it has locations in Apeldoorn, Amsterdam and Vienna and this year have been recognised as one of the top small universities in the Netherlands and definitely one of the most international in the country.”
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press
Higher education is one of the Netherlands’s major exports, but it has to import young talent and that is why educators like Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences are so important.
This is according to Paul Zevenbergen, an executive board member of the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organization NVAO, who was the guest speaker at Wittenborg’s 30th anniversary gala last Friday.
“The Netherlands is well-known for exporting cheese and flowers, but we have something else, something very powerful to export: higher education. And exporting higher education means importing young talent. This is what makes (the work) that educators like Wittenborg do, so important.”
Zevenbergen said the Netherlands is making good progress in achieving its higher education goals, however there is still a long way to go in terms of international orientation although business education is performing well in this regard. “Education should become more student-centred and not have the one-size-fits-all-classrooms approach.”
Zevenbergen congratulated Wittenborg on being ranked as one of the top 4 higher education institutions in International Business Administration (IBA) and on 30 years of making a meaningful contribution to higher education in the Netherlands. “Also congratulations on expanding your activities to Vienna and Amsterdam. This is a confident sign that Wittenborg is doing well and is ready for at least another 30 years!”
Zevenbergen spoke about the “magic of education” and asked guests at the gala to think about how education has changed their lives.
“Education enables us to find our way in life and to help others to do the same. It emancipates in terms of providing opportunities to everyone, broadens our perspective and we learn to think for ourselves. It makes us curious. As Einstein said: ‘I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.’
“Education also connects people and here at Wittenborg many international connections are made. Connection is what we need most nowadays. Tensions seem to build up. Gaps seem to widen and deepen. But time and time again, when connections are created, tension become detente, gaps are bridged and escalation de-escalates.
“Connection requires mutual understanding, respect, caring for our world and society we live in. Even business boils down to making good deals and good deals are about connecting and delivering mutual benefits. Unless you are in business of exploiting people and Wittenborg certainly does not teach you that,” Zevenbergen told students.
by Anesca Smith
'Wittenborg proves that private universities and internationalisation play a very important role in the Dutch higher education system', the director-general of Nuffic, Freddy Weima believes.
Weima was a guest speaker at Wittenborg's 30th anniversary celebration at the Apeldoorn City Hall on Friday. Nuffic is the Dutch agency for the promotion of internationalisation in higher education.
Weima, in congratulating Wittenborg said that international experience adds an invaluable dimension to a student’s training. “International cooperation can really help international relations and peace processes. I think we have to meet the world to understand the world.
"You look at internationalization these days and I think we are doing quite well. For instance, this year for the first time in history the Netherlands welcomed over a 100 000 students – many of them here (at Wittenborg) by the way! The Netherlands is still the non-English speaking country with the most English study programmes.
"Given these realities, I think it is very important that we have institutes like Wittenborg. Wittenborg proves that private universities can also be very important to the Dutch higher education system and internationalisation.
"I am pleased to say that Wittenborg and Nuffic has a very good relationship. For instance, Wittenborg is an enthusiastic participant in our Study in Holland campaign and a welcome guest at the pavilion of the biggest European Fair on internationalization EAIE and an active participant in the Orange Tulip Scholarship. Many more reasons to congratulate Wittenborg again. But I am not only looking backward at those 30 years, but also looking forward to the years to come and cooperating with Wittenborg in the years to come. 'Study in Holland', 'Make it in the Netherlands' and 'Stay in touch, with the Dutch!'."
This week is the Week of the International Student in the Netherlands.
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press
by James Wittenborg
Important step towards more transparency will bring benefits to Wittenborg and its students.
On October 3, 2017, the Netherlands Parliament's First Chamber approved the connection of private higher education to 'BRON' (the Basic Register of Education) and the admission of diplomas & degrees of private universities and universities of applied sciences in the diploma register.
Through this amendment of the current legislation, private research universities and universities of applied sciences, such as Wittenborg, enjoy the same benefits of transparency as their publicly funded counterparts. This ruling allows students in private higher education to obtain a confirmation of their degree from the DUO, the Education Operations Service of the ministry of education.
'NRTO has long argued that private institutions should be connected to 'BRON' so that it is clear how many students are studying in private higher education. This increases transparency, and now that all students in private education can easily find their degrees in the diploma register, it's certainly a step forward," said Ria van 't Klooster (director NRTO, branch organisation representing Private Higher Education in the Netherlands).
According to Santosh Aryal, Wittenborg's Student Registrar, 'Having them included in BRON will greatly benefit our students, of course. However, it will make it easier for Wittenborg to profile itself, for instance making its basic student records directly available to government will enable us to be included in internationalisation ranking data, showing that we are the most international and diverse institute'.
Wittenborg has recently been ranked in the top of the Netherland's business programmes, ranked 4th top institute in the small university category, and 2nd overall in the business administration bachelor's programmes.
'BRON' stands for 'Basisregister Onderwijs' or literally, Basic Register of Education. In BRON, the enrollments and diplomas of students are recorded, leading to data on retention rates, diversity, internationalisation.
In the diploma registry, anyone who has obtained a (government-accredited) degree or diploma can download an excerpt of the obtained diplomas and degrees. This extract is a PDF document that is officially certified. This certification guarantees that the document originates from DUO. The digital excerpt has the same value as a certified copy of a student's degree/diploma and can be used in an official capacity to show what a student has achieved.
by James Wittenborg
‘What goes around comes around’
According to the Oxford dictionary, it is a saying that means ‘the consequences of one's actions will have to be dealt with eventually.’
This week, a remarkable week for Wittenborg, also saw a milestone for myself. Whilst Wittenborg celebrates its 30th anniversary, almost 15 years ago to the day, Maggie and I started our journey with this wonderful institute, after having left the pioneering days of fledgling internationalisation at Saxion.
From 1995 to 2002 I had been at the forefront of developing international programmes at what became Saxion Universities of Applied Science, and when we left in the autumn of 2003, it was with the normal animosity that is sparked by rivalry. That was 15 years ago, and of course we carried on pioneering at Wittenborg until 2010, when we moved our university to Apeldoorn - but thats another story.
Today Wittenborg and Saxion share a higher education campus in Apeldoorn and there is a common goal - to maintain, improve and excel in higher education in the region.
This week started with the release of the ‘Study Choice Guide’ 2018 (Keuzegids), in which Saxion was ranked 4th in its group of large universities of applied sciences, and Wittenborg was ranked 4th in its category of ‘small’ universities of applied sciences. Overall Saxion scored 60.5 and Wittenborg 83.5. Saxion has 56 different programmes, Wittenborg 1 broad bachelor with 10 programmes …. although its nice, you can see the ‘apples versus pears’ conundrum.
However, what was great was this - we ended last week celebrating the real anniversary of Wittenborg (21 September 1987), and started this week with a wonderful bunch of flowers, to congratulate us, from our neighbours, Saxion Hospitality Business School.
On Tuesday, the circle was complete, when I attended my daughters graduation ceremony, at Saxion Deventer, where she was awarded a bachelor’s in Education (PABO). apart from being a very proud moment for a very proud Dad, and a wonderful occasion for all, I did have a feeling of ‘what goes around, comes around’.
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?
Keep on Moving