Meet Wittenborg's New Chair of the Advisory Board: Rijn Platteel
Rijn Platteel has been appointed as the new chair of the Advisory Board at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences. He replaces the outgoing chair, Ruud Dost, who has been a member of the board for the past 10 years. In an interview Platteel spoke about how he envisions his new role and the importance of creating equal opportunities for youngsters in an unequal society reflecting on recent incidents that rocked Dutch society, like the child benefit scandal and youth unrest. Platteel is the regional chair of the employer's association VNO-NCW (Stedendriehoek), as well as company director of Change=, a social real estate development and property management company.
Why were you interested in the position?
Apeldoorn needs excellent education. Being so international, Wittenborg fills a gap that no other school or university does. As chairman of VNO-NCW Stedendriehoek (Apeldoorn, Deventer, Zutphen and surrounding municipalities) I need to stay in close contact with the education sector. While the public education system is well taken care of, Wittenborg, as a private institution, may easily find itself overlooked. I am here to ensure Wittenborg stays in the limelight.
How do you see your role as chair of the advisory board?
I do not have a background in education, so I see my role is as connecting entrepreneurs, government and education.
What contribution to you hope to make?
What I would like to accomplish is that the municipality of Apeldoorn finally really supports Wittenborg. Wittenborg has so much to add to the educational climate in Apeldoorn and surroundings and its programmes are the only ones that really add the element of internationality to its curriculum. Employers need internationally oriented employees. I believe there needs to be a closer link between Wittenborg and the business community. Since its student body, lecturers and even the management are mostly international, I think I can contribute to strengthening its local network.
What do you think we can learn from the past year as a society?
COVID-19 taught us a number of things. Proximity is no longer an issue, be it for social interaction purposes. That requires a complete new way of thinking about the future, about communication, about travelling, about information technology. What we held dear in the past no longer exists and we need new ways of adapting to the future. Besides that, even with less travel, the CO2 emission rate did not really alter. We need new strategies on how to cope with climate change and environmental problems.
As chair of Change= how would you describe the current student accommodation situation in the Netherlands? What can be improved?
Student accommodation is too expensive and scarce. Students would like to live in the centre of cities, close to where the action is. That is currently unobtainable. Students actually bring life to city centres. And even without high income, they usually spend a good deal. Students add to the 'couleur locale'.
Transformation of unused office buildings and new buildings will relieve that situation but it will take time. Cooperation between a number of parties may help. There are more solutions I could think of, quicker and less expensive.
May I ask you an arbitrary question? Do you think we have the right to tell our children they are equal or can be anything they want to be, while the social system is clearly skewed against many of them? Doesn't it only lead to disillusion? I'm referencing some recent issues like the child benefit scandal and the spate of riots in the Netherlands.
Mankind may be created equal, but our societal and social system does not favour equality. My children have a tremendous advantage simply because I have had a decent education and the financial abundance to give them the same level of education. Secondly, my way of raising children forces them to take responsibility and act.
On the other hand, our society tends to reward "entitlement". Our system is based on having rights, not on contribution and responsibility. We, as a society as a whole, as well as individuals, have a responsibility to offer every member the same chances. Furthermore, we need to make sure that people take responsibility. I have to admit that it is easier said than done.
The examples you mention indicate something else too. A deep mistrust and bias (racial and or otherwise). The youth riots are, in my opinion, not an expression of real discontent. At most, they are a manifestation of powerlessness. And for many, simply a reason to "have a good riot".
Finally, what kind of year has it been for you personally? How did you motivate yourself?
I never have problems motivating myself. I never seem to have enough time anyway. Having said that, I started as managing director at Change= in March. Motivation was never a question.
by Anesca Smith