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Dutch Government Tackles Lack of Housing for International Students - Wittenborg Ahead of the Pack

Dutch Government Tackles Lack of Housing for International Students - Wittenborg Ahead of the PackThe Dutch parliament (Tweede Kamer) has accepted a motion calling for the government to facilitate a new action plan dealing with housing for international students in conjunction with other stakeholders, Nuffic reports. The Netherlands is welcoming record numbers of international students to its shores, but the densely populated country has fallen short of finding accommodation for all.

In the meantime, the new minister of higher education, Ingrid van Engelshoven has urged universities and other institutes of higher education to take the lead in ensuring international students have housing by working together with municipalities and other stakeholders such as housing agents.

Shanghai Students all Smiles and Compliments after Week at Wittenborg

Shanghai Students all Smiles and Compliments after Week at Wittenborg“I don’t want to leave!” Chinese student Zhang Yutong exclaimed, as she and her fellow students from the Shanghai Business School enjoyed their last day at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, after a weeklong visit to the Netherlands. They fly back to Shanghai on Saturday.

The group were treated to a luscious, specially designed cake with their photo on, as they said farewell to Wittenborg students and staff. Wittenborg’s chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall, invited them to come back any time, whether for a short or longer study period. “The aim of this visit is cultural exchange. It is about our students going to China and you coming here.”

Wittenborg Praised as "Innovative" on Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO1

Wittenborg Praised as "Innovative" on Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO1Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences was commended on the Dutch public broadcaster NPO Radio 1 for its “innovative” approach to  education and for successfully creating a truly international institute of higher education where different cultures are celebrated.

Wittenborg directors  Maggie Feng and Peter Birdsall were interviewed on NPO 1 Radio on Monday morning, talking to presenter Prem Radhakishun who is a well-known political commentator and public figure in the Netherlands.

And not only Radhakishun, but also his listeners were impressed by what Birdsall and Feng have  created in just over 10 years: running an institute with over 700 students, of whom 89% are international, at 3 locations in Europe. “You are basically making the world a better place,” Radhakishun said.

Feng, who was born in Beijing, and retains her Chinese nationality to this day, said to study at Wittenborg you have to be impartial to race, colour and creed. “In any of our classes you have about 30 - 35 students from 15 different nationalities. Students choose Wittenborg because of its international character. You have to be 'colour blind' to come here, and you’ll find during your studies you make wonderful international friends and business relations.”

Wittenborg Praised as "Innovative" on Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO1Wittenborg’s decision to have six entry dates per year was hailed by Radhakishun and listeners as “innovative”. Birdsall, who has mixed British and Swiss nationality, explained the idea was actually born out of necessity. “Back in 2006 when we started the current international programmes, students from outside the European Union would have to wait long for study visas to be approved. “We found that, say, students who were supposed to start in September, would only arrive the next January. We created the six entrée dates to facilitate that problem.”

Radhakishun also reminded his listeners of the financial contributions that international students make to the Dutch treasury and how they enrich the local culture. One Dutch caller said he believes the mentality of international students is higher than that of Dutch students. Radhakishun added that the drive to succeed is higher among internationals.

When asked by a listener (via a tweet) what Wittenborg’s plans are for the next 10 years, Feng said they want to open branch campuses in more countries. “Perhaps Spain, London and Shanghai.” Birdsall also explained the decision to open a location in Amsterdam, citing that the city is highly competitive and well-known for its entrepreneurial endeavors. “We believed it would be perfect for our IBA programme in Entrepreneurship.”

Wittenborg Praised as "Innovative" on Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO1Prem Radhakishun met Feng and Birdsall at this year's 'Ethnic Businesswoman of the Year' (EVZN) Awards Gala, at which Maggie Feng was announced runner-up. Radhakishun himself received the 'Presidents Award' in 2016 for his commitment to EVZN as an advisor. He himself presented the awards gala five times in the past.

Radhakishun's (Dutch spoken) programme is called 'Zwarte Prietpraat' and the interviews with Feng and Birdsall can be heard online here: (maandag 11 december)

WUP 12/12/2017

by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press

Wittenborg Alumnus Starts African-Inspired Clothing Brand

Wittenborg Alumnus Starts African-Inspired Clothing BrandWittenborg alumnus and writer Anesca Smith recently started her own clothing brand We Be Sisters which sells hand-made, African-inspired clothes for women.

Anesca, how did you get started with your clothing brand?
"I have always adored beautiful, well-cut clothes and discovered many great brands when I worked in London, but never dreamed that I would start my own clothing line. It was only this year when I went back home to South Africa – where women dress in beautiful, bold African-inspired clothes – that I realized I wanted to bring some of that magic back to Europe. 

"Also, the information revolution we are experiencing – including social media – empowers individuals like me to start a web shop with a small budget and limited risk. Finally, Dutch people are very entrepreneurially minded and that is so inspiring."

Where does the name come from?
"I was raised by a matriarchy comprised of my mother, aunts and cousins, and always felt immensely supported by women. I wanted the name – which is derived from a poem by Lucille Clifton – to reflect that. Also, I think all women are beautiful and I want them to feel beautiful in the clothes I make. "


Wittenborg Lecturer's Book on Islamic Banking offers "Viable Option"

Wittenborg Lecturer's Book on Islamic Banking offers "Viable Option" Wittenborg lecturer Dr Muhammad Ashfaq has a new book out: “Islamic Banking and Finance in Europe: The Case of Germany and the United Kingdom”.

Ashfaq said the book is the first one comparing Islamic banking in the two countries, and contributes to eradicating the lack of data available on the subject in Europe. It was published by the Peter Lang Publishing Group in Germany and was written as a result of Ashfaq’s doctoral studies on the subject.

“After the financial crisis of 2008-09, there developed a need to understand the Islamic financial system as an alternative. It showed itself to be a viable option,” Ashfaq said.

Wittenborg Lecturer's Book on Islamic Banking offers "Viable Option" According to his research, the Islamic financial industry is growing in Europe. “The qualitative study showed that the success of Islamic banking and finance in the UK is mainly due to the proactive role taken by regulators and London’s role as an international financial centre. Germany’s regulatory model is different from that of the UK in that there are no market entry barriers, and the success of Islamic banking in Germany will largely depend on the operating model of Islamic financial institutions.

WUP 5/12/2017

by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press

Wittenborg Students Get Career Tips from Top British Sport Coach

Wittenborg Students Get Career Tips from Top British Sport CoachWittenborg students recently had the privilege to get some career advice from Paralympic coach Dr Gary Brickley who knows all about what it takes to win gold at a top international level. 

Brickley gave a seminar at Wittenborg’s location in Apeldoorn entitled “Three decades of change in sport performance and physical activity”. Besides his work with Paralympic athletes, Brickley is also a senior lecturer at the University of Brighton in the UK, Wittenborg’s main education partner.

Brickley talked about the harsh realities and physical obstacles facing Paralympic athletes who want to reach the top, but also the sweetness of their eventual triumph and how it inspires him as their coach. He listed the various roles he has to play as coach - including advising on doping control in sport and nutrition, admitting that it is a fine line between the two. “In sport, when you go to events like the Paralympics, it is very important that you manage your athletes and what they are eating.”

Brickley also had some advice for students aiming to carve out a career in the sport industry. 

“Work hard at your studies and gain as much experience as you can. Volunteer at big sporting events and talk to people affiliated with the sport industry. It is also important that you choose the right university and the right programme for your studies. Finally, developing your communication skills is very important,” Brickley said. 

WUP 3/12/2017

by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press

Wittenborg Set to End 2017 on a High as Student Numbers Soar

ittenborg Set to End 2017 on a High as Student Numbers Soar The growth spurt in student numbers that Wittenborg has experienced in 2017 seems set to continue right to the end of the year, with a steady growth of around 15% student numbers overall.

Yesterday, Wittenborg registrar, Santosh Aryal, said almost 40 new students will start classes next week - double the number of those who commenced their studies in December last year. "In fact, we want to remind prospective students that they can still apply right up to 31 December 2017, as the admissions team will only be 'off-duty' on 25 and 26 December," Aryal said. We are looking forward to the next intake which occurs in February 2018.


Wittenborg Vienna Students Visit Oldest Zoo in the World

Project Week at Wittenborg’s campus in Vienna is always an awesome affair!

Wittenborg Vienna Students Visit Oldest Zoo in the World

This Project Week, students had an exclusive tour of the Vienna Zoo Schonbrunn  - which at 260 years of age is the oldest zoo in the world. And to boot, it is situated in the imperial gardens of the Sconbrunn Palace – surely one of the most beautiful royal buildings in the world, besides being one of the most popular tourist attractions.

But it was not all fun and games. Since it is a Project Week, assignment students will have to file a report on one of two topics: “How to promote animal protection for the Vienna Zoo” or  “How to combat low visitor numbers during off-season”.

Wittenborg Vienna Students Visit Oldest Zoo in the World“The Vienna Zoo sees it as their responsibility to create awareness of animal protection among its visitors. Students will address this issue in a report and presentation, and will create a mini-marketing plan of promotional activities for the zoo to use.

“The zoo also stru

gles with seasonality – like so many tourist attractions. Therefore, students will investigate how to tackle this problem and create recommendations for the zoo,” Wagner said.

WUP 29/11/2017

by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press

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Wittenborg Vienna

Wittenborg Students

Goodbye Dr Jacques Kaat

In a moving and very personal ceremony, attended by his former colleagues from Webster University Leiden, and of course from our own wonderful Wittenborg, by Maggie, myself and our Head of School of business, Rauf, we all came to terms with what we have Peter Birdsall, Chair of the Executive Board, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences

I was privileged today to be asked to speak at the memorial service for our (Wittenborg's) Academic Dean, Dr Jacques Kaat, who sadly passed away last week. My last 'whatsapp' with him a week previously confirmed that things were not going well, and he said 'I'll be in touch'. He certainly was.

In a moving and very personal ceremony, attended by his former colleagues from Webster University Leiden, and of course from our own wonderful Wittenborg, by Maggie, myself and our Head of School of business, Rauf, we all came to terms with what we have lost.

The harsh reality is the exceptional man we all have lost; and I implore those bestowed with the responsibility to manage our excellent Dutch higher education to go carefully with its exceptional talent.

The un-abridged speech that I wrote, and mostly spoke today is below.

To Jacques Kaat - we will miss your earthly support.

Monday, 27th November 2017, Oegstgeest

I am honored to have been asked to say some words about a man who has meant so much to so many of us, in different but often similar ways. Thanks for asking me, Jacques – you placed great trust in me, and having heard you speak in the past, I’m nervous!

I’m also speaking especially on behalf of all the staff and teachers at Wittenborg who knew and worked with Jacques, and thanks to colleagues who have contributed to these words.

I feel as if I have known Jacques for a long time – higher education in the Netherlands is a relatively small world, and international education even smaller, and those working in internationalisation, as Jacques has done for many years, become ‘known’ on the circuit.

I’ve actually only really learnt about ‘the real man Jacques Kaat’ since we started working together in 2015.

As have many of our colleagues, and when writing this speech last night, Daniel, our senior English teacher, who has had a lot to do with Jacques during his time at Wittenborg, mentioned that Jacques would probably quite enjoy the idea of doing this speech ‘Monty Python style’, for example, when John Cleese spoke at the memorial of Graham Chapman, co-author of the Dead Parrot sketch, who also left us, just as Jacques, sadly much too early. I think you can get the idea – if you know the sketch, or you can see it on YouTube. Sorry, Jacques, the crossover of culture from British to Dutch can be treacherous.

In a moving and very personal ceremony, attended by his former colleagues from Webster University Leiden, and of course from our own wonderful Wittenborg, by Maggie, myself and our Head of School of business, Rauf, we all came to terms with what we have lost.My memories of Jacques go ‘back a bit’, but in 2009, after my wife Maggie and I had become fully and solely responsible for Wittenborg, we were keen to get as much support and coaching from people experienced in what we were trying to do. We naturally found our way to Leiden and met Jacques at Webster University, where he was Academic Director. We had a wonderful day with this gently spoken leader, who showed us the institute and discussed the trials and tribulations of international higher education in the private sector. We had a delicious lunch together, talked about our plans, and asked for advice, which was easy for him to give. Travelling back to the east, Maggie and I talked about ‘what a truly nice guy this man was, and how much he knows about the sort of education we are trying to create in Deventer’. Little could we imagine that one day we would be based in Apeldoorn, and be lucky enough to have the opportunity to employ this gentle intellect as our first full academic dean.

Joining Wittenborg, Jacques brought to the job his experience of American, British and European higher education and accreditation systems, but especially a wealth of experience relating to building and managing quality programmes at an international institute.

They say great leaders choose their leadership style like a golfer chooses his or her club – with a calculated analysis of the matter at hand.

As the Academic Dean at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, Dr Jacques Kaat chose to lead with sincerity, gentleness and a quiet, cool intellect. He was a natural mentor.

He was appointed at Wittenborg in March 2015, and he immediately immersed himself in the consolidation of its academic programmes and the enhancement of quality in its education system. His extensive knowledge about education quickly won him the respect and trust of colleagues and those he mentored.

The joy he derived from working in education was obvious. “It’s magic,” he called it at one point, describing the satisfaction of seeing new students arriving and watching them develop year after year into young adults. “That is what motivates me.”

During the relatively short period that Jacques was able to fully concentrate on his work at Wittenborg, he implemented some radical changes that will remain with us for decades to come.

The first thing was a classic – to raise the academic levels. An academic dean wants to raise the entry standards above the basic norm, for instance, by raising the English language requirements for students starting – of course, the well-being of the institute is a balance between increasing and ensuring intake and being competitive. Jacques was careful first to highlight the problem, with a possible solution, which he knew would not go down well, and he was clever enough to have a compromise ready, one that would satisfy both his ethical approach to raising quality, and the need to enrol students on a competitive basis. The result is that every student starting at Wittenborg is now tested during their introduction week with a ‘seriously tough’ diagnostic English test – if they pass it, that’s fine, if they don’t – extra English lessons must be followed and provided free of charge by the institute.

Another legacy is his work on our recent accreditations, long and complex processes that can make or break a small institute. His methodical way of working, his deeper insight into the links between what we do and why we do it, and also his creative thinking, have directly resulted in our MBA programmes being now fully accredited by the Dutch NVAO as well as the German FIBAA.

His work on the additional requirements set by NVAO, which needed some creative curriculum design solutions, to ensure that it met NVAO but didn’t stray too far from the already gained FIBAA accreditation, was exceptional. I am glad that I told him so.

Jacques even gave input into the recent re-accreditation of all our bachelors’ programmes this spring, even though he was so sick.

In a moving and very personal ceremony, attended by his former colleagues from Webster University Leiden, and of course from our own wonderful Wittenborg, by Maggie, myself and our Head of School of business, Rauf, we all came to terms with what we have lost.

During his illness, I tried to call him on a regular basis, and I know that other colleagues did too. We would talk about higher education, about Wittenborg, about our successes and our challenges, and he would continue to give advice and ideas and suggestions that could help. For instance, he suggested that his good friend Dr Regina Kecht could act as interim in his absence, and as she is based in Vienna, where we have new adventures now, this idea was grasped keenly, and our Vienna venture will benefit greatly.

Before concerns about his health took their toll, Jacques gave one last talk in his capacity as Academic Dean when he addressed graduates at Wittenborg’s 2016 Winter Graduation Ceremony in February that year. He spoke intently about the decisive moments in one’s life, calling them “game-changers” and urging students to “never stop creating those moments”.

“The day you choose your life partner or the day when your first child is born, those are examples of decisive moments. You have them right until the day you draw your last breath. These moments don’t just happen. They happen because you create them, you open yourself up to opportunity and act upon them.”

Perhaps his biggest legacy at Wittenborg is that he taught how to lead with integrity – by sharing words of wisdom, but mostly by way of example.

Not only has Wittenborg lost a great asset in Jacques, but I feel that higher education, and particularly private higher education in the Netherlands, has lost a wonderful supporter for the cause of quality and excellence in our branch. Maggie and I have lost a great colleague, a gentle advisor, but also the chance to further develop a friendship. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, he will be missed.

WUP 27/11/2017

by James Wittenborg

©Wittenborg University Press

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