A new dawn for Stenden SA
TAKING a monumental leap into the future, NHL University (Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden) and Stenden University have merged to form one university.
Stenden University, known as Stenden SA within South Africa, ushered in this colossal development by inviting all students and staff to enjoy in a beautiful sponge-cake – which was sponsored by the mother university in the Netherlands.
Explaining the merger, the institution sent out a press release to ensure that the decision was not taken lightly, detailing the process of reaching the conclusion that to merge would be mutually beneficial to both institutions and their affiliated exchange programmes.
“Neither university currently has any urgent issues that need resolving by means of a merger. A merger is not a goal but a means to anticipate a number of developments in the medium to long term in time, in the interest of all stakeholders,” the statement said.
In general, the most basic outcome is to establish solidarity among Dutch-based institutions of higher learning with specific regard to their out of country learning programmes.
“The merged university will be twice as big,” said Stenden SA executive dean Dr Wouter Hensens, explaining that there is an equilibrium in terms of students and staff from respective institutions heading into the merge.
“Typically merges are nasty things as they result in lay-offs and cost-cutting and other things. I’d like to think that this merging is quite different,” Hensens said.
According to Hensens, the process has taken close to five years. The statement released by the mother university said the first board meeting tabling a merger was held late in 2013, which was the beginning of the phase wherein the practicality and feasibility of the merger was discussed. The executive boards of affiliated partners thereafter devised a merger-steering committee, which developed a successful design paradigm on “working on world-wise innovation” – which is a process that involves many parties in various forms of co-creation.
“What will be unique about the university,” Hensens said, “is that we’ve taken everything which we feel is special about Stenden and that is special about NHL and used it as a starting point to start something more exciting.
“The last three years, more than 100 staff members were involved in shaping not just the merger but a completely new university, and that’s how we refer to the situation in next year.”
The institutional merger will better equip students from the new institution, known as NHL-Stenden, with a qualification in solving problems as they arise in whatever and whichever social climate they find themselves working in – ensuring cohesion with customs, cultures and traditions they may encounter along the way, particularly in overseas study programmes.
“There is not a new name yet,” said Hensens. “The initial new name will be NHL-Stenden. For us, we will remain Stenden South Africa.”
ACADEMIC WARRIOR: Stenden SA executive dean Dr Wouter Hensens assured everyone attending the celebration of the milestone merger between NHL and Stenden universities in the Netherlands that Stenden SA would retain its name