Strategic alliance Leiden, Delft and Erasmus University

Strengthening education and research

Leiden University, Delft University of Technology, and Erasmus University Rotterdam want to join forces to strengthen the range of educational programmes they offer and set up knowledge centres. The three institutions plan to enter into a strategic alliance to achieve this. A joint policy document – 'Adding Value' – will shortly be sent together with separate profile reports to the state secretary, Mr Zijlstra (responsible for higher education).

Leiden, Delft and Erasmus Universities are setting up the strategic alliance in order to further increase the quality of their teaching and research, with a more clear-cut profile for the educational programmes they offer and a stronger international positioning of their research. This far-reaching collaboration is inspired by the positive experience with existing cooperative ventures such as Medical Delta (medical technology).

The three institutions want to further broaden the range of bachelor programmes, in part by offering degrees that tie in with the Dutch priority sectors. The plan is also to improve access between the institutions to degree courses. In the master phase, the partners plan to extend the range of joint degrees and coordinate specialist areas.

The universities also aim to intensify existing collaborative efforts by setting up joint Graduate Schools and LDE (Leiden-Delft-Erasmus) Centres. The Schools will offer taught master degrees, doctorates and research master degrees while the LDE Centres will be broad-based knowledge and research centres. Examples are a Graduate School of Science and a LDE Centre for Governance. More intensive collaboration will be achieved for example through a joint policy on chairs and by sharing facilities such as laboratories.

Academic fields
The new alliance covers a whole range of academic fields: the social sciences, humanities, economics, law, psychology, medicine and the technical sciences. The universities aim to combine them in multidisciplinary collaborative ventures around themes such as 'Safety and Security' and 'Infrastructure and Mobility'. These tie in with the major social issues that form the basis for the European Union's 2020 research policy and the priority sector policy in the Netherlands. Collaborating in research puts the universities in a stronger position, letting them to continue to compete with the global leaders in the volume of their scientific output. Finally, the universities of Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam also plan to join forces in the commercial exploitation of knowledge, thus further increasing the value of science to society.

According to the Chairs of the three Executive Boards, Pauline van der Meer Mohr (Erasmus), Paul van der Heijden (Leiden) and  Dirk Jan van den Berg (Delft), the combination of these three universities, located relatively close to each other in a densely populated region of considerable economic significance, offers great opportunities for added value in teaching, research and commercial exploitation. The aim of the new strategic alliance is to realise these opportunities. The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

The Executive Boards and academics at the three universities have been having intensive discussions over the past while. The draft version of the 'Adding Value' policy document will first be discussed this month with the various employee representation bodies and then be sent to the state secretary, Mr Zijlstra. If he agrees to the strategic alliance, the details of the planned alliance will be worked out before the end of this year. The organisational setup will follow from the substantive choices made in that process.

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Publication date: 08 March 2012