ITC and University of Twente Join Forces
On 25 March, the University of Twente (UT) and the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) signed the official agreement regulating the integration of the two institutions with effect from 1 January 2010. ITC is to be embedded as the sixth, special faculty in the UT.
Both parties see great advantages at national and international levels in the integration. Through the integration, ITC will be more firmly embedded in the Dutch academic education system, while the UT expects to be able to profit from ITC’s international network.
Both sides are also expected to profit with regard to the recruitment and selection of foreign students and the relating procedural transactions. Intrinsically the cooperation -already partly in effect- can lead to innovative research and education in areas such as energy, environment, climate change, water, geo-information and earth observation, and disaster management.
The new relationship with the UT offers ITC and the UT interesting opportunities for joint research into new educational projects and markets. However, the mission of the UT differs from that of ITC. Consequently, full integration carries the risk that ITC will lose its prominent position as an institute for capacity building. Molenaar recognises this risk but a suitable arrangement has been made with the UT. "In view of the name and fame of ITC, our brand will simply continue. Neither our name, nor our policy or location will change. The ambition of the UT is to become an international university with a European orientation. ITC can help the UT to develop an institutional culture that is necessary for a status of this kind. Working together, the two parties can also develop strategies for activities outside Europe."
The immediate reason for the amalgamation is the fact that, with effect from 1 January this year, the subsidy from the Ministry of Education has changed in such as way that ITC funding is awarded no longer directly to ITC but via the budget of the UT. For the first 50 years, ITC was autonomous and was directly responsible to the Ministry of Education. The Bologna agreements have meant much more regulation of the international higher education market, and increasingly ITC must fit within the frameworks now created. The UT has been the official penman of ITC since 2002, and in 2006 the two institutes signed a declaration of intent concerning more intensive cooperation. This resulted at the beginning of 2008 in the agreement signed on 25 March in the town hall of Enschede by Dr Anne Flierman, chairman of the Executive Board of the University of Twente, and Professor Martien Molenaar, rector of ITC. The mayor of Enschede, Peter den Oudsten, played host on this occasion. The amalgamation of ITC and the UT fits within the Future Vision for Enschede 2020, which can be summarised as follows: "In this vision of 2020 Enschede is renowned throughout Europe as a knowledge city that is the beating heart of the Euregional area, linking Netwerkstad Twente and the German towns of Münster and Osnabrück. It is a city where everyone is in paid employment and/or works in a different way for the community; where the socio-economic differences are smaller than now because everyone shares in the growth and prosperity. It is also a city that in many places looks better and more attractive; where people feel at home; where people live, dwell, study, work and relax in an environment that is inviting, pleasant, sustainable and green."
The histories of the two education institutes in Enschede are reasonably similar in length. For almost 60 years now, ITC has been engaged in international education at academic level, as well as with courses at intermediate and higher vocational levels. This has been combined with research and technical consulting in the area of geo-information science and earth observation, where remote sensing technology is used for collecting spatial information.
The University of Twente has been in existence for 47 years and engages in education and research in academic fields ranging from psychology and public administration to technical physics and biomedical technology. ITC has approximately 240 staff members and 1,700 students, while the UT has nearly 2,500 staff members and over 8,000 students.