What to watch out for in 2019

| Michaela Nesvarova , Rense Kuipers

What will 2019 bring for the UT community? From finding a place for the ITC faculty to the start of the joint programme Mechanical Engineering together with the VU in Amsterdam. Here are some of the major developments on and around campus that you can expect this year.

Design for the reconstruction of The Gallery. Source: BLOC

Will ITC move to the campus?

There are three options on the table for ITC, since the plans for the faculty being accommodated where the Citadel stands now were cancelled last year. ITC will either get a new building on campus, move to The Gallery Phase 2 or stay right where it is at the Hengelosestraat. The latter scenario is undesirable, according to vice president Mirjam Bult. At the end of this month, the involved parties want to come to a decision.

Mental health

Media paid a lot of attention to psychological problems amongst students last year. So much that rector Thom Palstra also voiced his concerns during his Dies Natalis speech last November. To get a clear view of the scope of the problems here, there will be a UT wide research, starting in February. We will know more come summertime, when Student Affairs Coaching and Counselling hopes to have the results.

Transforming an iconic building

From a ruin to a fancy hotel and student apartments. The transformation of the Hogekamp should be finalized this year. The U-Parkhotel will open its doors to the public in February and what’s left to rebuild are the apartments in the building’s tower. The building will also get a large (and green) square on the side, extending to the Vrijhof.

Design for the new square next to Hogekamp.

Power to the people

Dutch research financer NWO has 70 million euros to divide this year, through the so-called Nationale Wetenschapsagenda (Dutch National Research Agenda). Around four years ago, the initiative gave platform to everyone in the Netherlands to ask questions to researchers. The result: almost 12.000 questions that got distilled into 25 ‘routes’. Consortia of researchers will know if their proposals were accepted or not in April.

‘Women only’ chairs

Hypatia chairs: the UT’s attempt to appoint at least ten female professors by 2020. The positions were introduced in 2018 in order to increase the number of female full professors at the university, but – all of them – remain to be filled at this point. Will this be the year someone ‘takes a seat’ in this women-only chair? That’s the plan.  

A (techno) hall for health

The Technohal is currently being rebuilt and will be the new home for all health-related research and education. The official opening ceremony will take place at the Dies Natalis ceremony this year, but students and staff can move in earlier and get ready for the start of the next academic year in September. Moving is easier said than done, by the way. It will take some heavy machinery to relocate an MRI scanner weighing 9000 kilograms from Meander to the newly named Techmed Centre.

Technohal 

From Enschede to Amsterdam

2019 also marks the start of the new bachelor programme Mechanical Engineering, in collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In September, the first batch of students will get both the Amsterdam and the Twente experience. The majority of their curriculum takes place in Amsterdam and a quarter of their time takes place here. 

Powered by the Sun

Only 276 days to go until the start of the possibly most anticipated student race - the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Driving their solar car across Australia, Solar Team Twente will attempt to be the first to complete the 3000 km long journey and bring home the title of ‘world champions’. Would you bet on them? They did secure two victories in the European Championship last year.

Back to the future: 2030

The year is 2019, but the University of Twente is already busy with preparing the strategy for 2030, the successor of ‘Vision 2020’. What role should the university play in the future? What is needed for a successful journey to 2030? Answers to these questions should be outlined in the ‘Shaping 2030’ strategy, scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. And you can also help shape the future. The UT Executive Board is inviting all staff and students to join ‘inspirational sessions’ where you can share your opinion.

Another campus in Twente

Unless you slept through 2018, it was hard to miss the news of Lithium Werks planning to build a clean energy research and development (R&D) campus in Twente. The company is run by UT alumnus Kees Koolen (a founder of Booking.com) and collaborates with the UT. Lithium Werks’ grand plan is to create a 42 acre R&D campus for the development of a mobile battery ecosystem at Technology Base (also known as the Twente Airport). That will take a while, but the first building is to be finished by the end of 2019, initially providing work for about 300 people.

Design of the future Lithium Werks R&D campus at Twente Technology Base. 

Changes in the Gallery

The building should start undergoing its final makeover, ‘the phase two of the Gallery’, eventually providing a sustainable meeting place where the academic community and entrepreneurs can find each other. The DesignLab, based in the Gallery, will also play a role in the yet-to-be-reconstructed part of the building. But who will run this involvement is unknown yet, as the DesignLab’s Managing Director Frank Kresin is leaving the UT in February. Shortly we shall see who will fill his shoes.

Follow the money

The UT can invest money gained from the disappearing of the basic income for students (basisbeurs). And it has a plan for that. The next few years, the budget is allocated to the following:

  • Learning facilities (3 million)
  • Community building (2 million)
  • Teaching professionalization (1,8 million)
  • Talent development students (5,8 million)
  • Global citizens (1,3 million)

Most visible will probably the learning facilities aspect: the UT wants to significantly increase the number of study places and project spaces, and improve the existing ones. Let’s keep an eye on that.

Awaiting judgement

The UT is subject to an institutional audit this year, by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). The UT expects the NVAO to visit in October/November of this year. As a preparation, the university has to provide the NVAO with a self-assessment. That assessment should be done come summertime.