A new dawn for Sten­den SA

Talk of the Town - - News - LEBOGANG TLOU

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.”

Pic­ture: LEBOGANG TLOU

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

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