"Remaining a non-profit organisation served us well so far"
Wittenborg will aim to bring its student population up to 1,000 for the first time in 2019, the institution's chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall, told staff and guests at its annual New Year's reception.
A remarkable feat, given the fact that when the current management took over in 2008 the school was on the brink of administrative closure by the government, and was slowly built up to where it is today with a "very real ambition to be one of the top business and management schools in the world", according to Birdsall.
"Often non-profit organisations find themselves having to go to market to survive," he said. "An example of this would be our partner, Nuffic, that are closing offices around the world and try to earn as much income as possible through services they offer universities. In Wittenborg's case, we effectively withdrew ourselves as a for-profit organisation, purely to survive politically. This decision has served us well, and still does, with the continued goodwill of local, regional and national government - achieved by openness, transparency and a commitment to what we stand for: Diversity, Internationalisation and Ethics. This is also reflected in our brand new slogan "Better Ourselves, Better Our World" which will lead us into the future."
According to Birdsall, 2019 will very much be a continuation of building on the goals Wittenborg set for itself in 2018: boosting the international classroom, diversity and continued, steady growth. "One thing that characterised 2018 is that we were extremely busy - that translates into energy and energy translates into growth. And nothing compares with the energy demonstrated by our CEO, Maggie Feng, who took on the role of project manager and transformed our Amsterdam campus from a shared office space to a fantastic new, bespoke location in the Dali-building in one of Amsterdam's most exciting developing areas - Arena Port."
After a phenomenal growth of 22% in student population last year and expanding the teaching facility - due partly to a successful MBA recruitment campaign - Wittenborg will in 2019 seek to maintain its current administrative apparatus along with modest growth. A rise in first-year undergraduate intake has led to the bachelor's split into 4 new pathways. "Maintaining and nurturing the teaching capacity is a must whilst expanding our PhD qualified teaching and research team."
Playing an important role in moving the school forward will be Prof. Dr. Ron Tuninga, Wittenborg's Vice President for Academic Affairs, who was brought on board in August 2018. "Ron's role is to lead us towards a unique position in the Netherlands, pitched between a traditional university of applied sciences (hogeschool) and a research university - as a leading business and management university in the Netherlands, compared with the Top 100 and the possibility of being listed in the Financial Times ranking.
"This is achieved by getting international recognition by one's peers, through international business school accreditation," Birdsall said. Wittenborg has its eyes set on three accreditations: programme accreditation of its MBA by AMBA, institutional accreditation by the AACSB, and finally, institution accreditation by EQUIS.
Other goals for 2019 would be to expand the involvement of students and staff in representation, including a new structure and role for the Student Representative body which was elected in December.
Birdsall thanked staff for their continued commitment to Wittenborg!
by Anesca Smith