'Discussion on internationalisation makes me sad'

| Stan Waning

Student numbers, internationalisation and staffing problems, just some keywords that keep UT busy. But what do the faculties expect for 2023? Today, episode four of a five-part series: Freek van der Meer, dean of the ITC faculty.

What will be important for the ITC faculty in 2023?

'Our move to Langezijds is, of course, the biggest issue. The building is almost ready. Completion is at the end of March and we will move over a month later. What I notice is that leaving our current building is also a huge task. Since we are going to less space, everyone is allowed to bring a maximum of two boxes. Cleaning up here is already in full swing. An interesting operation, but only in a positive sense. The relocation plans were already there in 2010, so it's about time.'

Can you paint a picture of what the move will look like?

'Not in detail, but the move will take a few weeks. We initially wanted to move over in February/March. Then there are a few education-free weeks, but that won't work out. During the moving weeks, we will switch to online teaching. The corona period was a good test in that regard.'

'Around the move, we want to organise some activities for a good landing on campus. Not only for ourselves, but actually for the whole UT. The building is open and I hope everyone will come and take a look. A formal opening will follow after the summer and then everything will hopefully work optimally.'

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

'Not ITC specific, but I am looking forward to the arrival of a UT climate centre or climate initiative. Together with Albert van den Berg, Cheryl de Boer and others, we are working on that, especially focusing on the consequences of climate change. Nationally, that's already there, but it's good that UT is following this year. It is positive that subjects around climate are in demand. The minor Sustainability, for example, is popular. We are also working within ITC towards the launch of Lifelong Learning through the ITC online Geoacademy, which is also a highlight.'

'Furthermore, I especially like to mention ongoing issues, such as developments in recognition and rewards, talent development and diversity and inclusion. And the arrival of the Humanitarian Engineering master's is worth mentioning. We are doing that together with BMS and ET. In my opinion, we can look more for such connections. The same goes for the appointment of shared professors. That's where deans have an important role to play: I believe in the power of complementarity. Our move is also going to help in that.'

What else do you hope for this year?

'The examples I just mentioned: the coming of the Humanitarian Engineering master's and Lifelong Learning, that will only succeed with the right support. It is not mentioned often enough that we at the UT - and certainly within ITC - have strong support. The work of all our departments makes all these developments possible. That is the envy of many companies and institutions. In 2023, I also look with above-average interest at Pre-U, ATLAS and ECIU, where beautiful developments are taking place.'

What are the challenges for 2023?

'I left 2022 with mixed feelings. The discussion on internationalisation saddened me. Not only the adopted political motion, but especially the unsubtle one-dimensional view on the subject. The motion is for the political stage and reinforces a certain undercurrent in society, to the detriment of 'foreigners'. I am glad that the board clearly states that we desperately need international students and colleagues. The issue concerns the entire university, but certainly the ITC faculty. The topic also touches on issues around finding the right staff. The metaphorical pond to fish from is getting smaller. We can improve on that as UT, by the way. Look at hybrid working, we are a forerunner in that. We could emphasise that more. Sometimes we are too modest.'

'What we should also not forget are challenges around the issues of sanction lists and knowledge security. That touches so many domains. Especially within ITC, many colleagues work from countries that are on a sanctions list. As Dutch people, we don't always think about that, but it does a lot to someone when your country is on a sanctions list.'

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