Higher education is one of the Netherlands’s major exports, but it has to import young talent and that is why educators like Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences are so important.
This is according to Paul Zevenbergen, an executive board member of the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organization NVAO, who was the guest speaker at Wittenborg’s 30th anniversary gala last Friday.
“The Netherlands is well-known for exporting cheese and flowers, but we have something else, something very powerful to export: higher education. And exporting higher education means importing young talent. This is what makes (the work) that educators like Wittenborg do, so important.”
Zevenbergen said the Netherlands is making good progress in achieving its higher education goals, however there is still a long way to go in terms of international orientation although business education is performing well in this regard. “Education should become more student-centred and not have the one-size-fits-all-classrooms approach.”
Zevenbergen congratulated Wittenborg on being ranked as one of the top 4 higher education institutions in International Business Administration (IBA) and on 30 years of making a meaningful contribution to higher education in the Netherlands. “Also congratulations on expanding your activities to Vienna and Amsterdam. This is a confident sign that Wittenborg is doing well and is ready for at least another 30 years!”
Zevenbergen spoke about the “magic of education” and asked guests at the gala to think about how education has changed their lives.
“Education enables us to find our way in life and to help others to do the same. It emancipates in terms of providing opportunities to everyone, broadens our perspective and we learn to think for ourselves. It makes us curious. As Einstein said: ‘I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.’
“Education also connects people and here at Wittenborg many international connections are made. Connection is what we need most nowadays. Tensions seem to build up. Gaps seem to widen and deepen. But time and time again, when connections are created, tension become detente, gaps are bridged and escalation de-escalates.
“Connection requires mutual understanding, respect, caring for our world and society we live in. Even business boils down to making good deals and good deals are about connecting and delivering mutual benefits. Unless you are in business of exploiting people and Wittenborg certainly does not teach you that,” Zevenbergen told students.
by Anesca Smith