News in Brief – Delta 7

Neso closingChinese students interested in studying in the Netherlands will soon no longer be able to turn to Dutch higher education’s representative office in Peking.

Nuffic’s Netherlands Education Support Office (Neso) will close its doors on June 1, 2010. Nuffic operates national offices in ten countries. These offices promote Dutch higher education and student recruitment. In 2001, Neso become part of a Chinese educational agency, a necessary requirement for receiving permission to set up operations in China. Neso however maintained its independence. Now however the Chinese partner agencies want more control over Neso’s activities, such as, for example, jointly determining which educational institutes Neso establishes partnerships with. For Nuffic, this Chinese interference is unacceptable, as Nuffic is funded by the Dutch government. Nuffic is now considering whether Neso can continue working in China in a different capacity.

Climate campus
With more than half the world’s population now living in cities, climate change research must focus more on the role of the urban environment. TU Delft’s campus therefore should serve as an excellent test case for the urban environment problems studied at the university, according to the Delft Environment Initiative, which aims to develop multidisciplinary student projects that use the campus and its surroundings as a laboratory for environmental research. This initiative, called Climate City Campus, aims to bring together students from different disciplines to work on environmental monitoring, modelling and climate proof solutions. Climate City Campus’ festive kick-off event is on 24 February, from 13:30 to 18:00, at the New TUD Science Centre (Mijnbouwstraat 120). Climate City Campus welcomes BSc and MSc students from all faculties. Erwin Kroll, a famous Dutch weatherman, will deliver the keynote address, which will be followed by workshops around themes like water, sustainable buildings, ICT, geo-information and sustainable outdoor spaces.

Complaint box
In addition to its telephone hotline, the Dutch National Union of Students (LSVb) has now set up a new online complaint box. Students who wish to submit complaints can do so by filling in an online form at klachtenbox.net. “Our student hotline is really only intended for giving one-to-one advice on legal matters,” explains LSVb chairman, Gerard Oosterwijk. “Our new site now makes it easier for students to register all types of complaints.”

Hot stuff
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have created the hottest temperature ever in a lab: 4 trillion degrees Celsius.  The scientists used a giant atom smasher to slam gold ions together, which produced ultra-hot explosions that were hot enough to break matter down into the soup-like state that existed microseconds after the birth of the universe. “That temperature is hot enough to melt protons and neutrons,” Brookhaven’s Steven Vigdor said during a news conference in Washington. The scientists hope their achievement will encourage other studies aimed at ultimately determining how and why the universe was formed. They also hope to use their research findings for practical applications, like ‘spintronics’, a field that aims to create smaller, faster and more powerful computers. How hot is 4 trillion °C? In comparison, the sun’s core is 50 million °C, and iron’s melting point 1,800 °C.

Going abroad
More TU Delft students are participating in university exchange programs abroad. In the 2007-08 academic year, 111 students studied abroad, while in 2009-10 that figure rose to 166 students, according to Elco van Noort, head of the university’s international office. Meanwhile, owing to stricter language requirements, the number of foreign students participating in exchanges at TU Delft dropped from 250 to 200 students this year. Van Noort says students from southern and eastern Europe particularly have struggled to meet the stricter (English) language requirements: “The question is if this is bad for your reputation. You also want to display excellence.” For years the university has hosted more exchange students than TU Delft students have gone abroad to study. This discrepancy is now less, a fact perhaps owing to the ‘Study Abroad’ brochure, which is now issued to all second and third-year BSc students. Moreover, today’s students find it more important to gain international experience during their studies. 

Aanleiding voor de wedstrijd zijn toekomstige ontwikkelingen rond de Afsluitdijk, waarover het kabinet zich in het voorjaar van 2010 zal buigen. Het centrum wil ter voorbereiding daarvan een onderbouwd advies uitbrengen over de locatie, het programma en het gebouw van het op te richten centrum. De ideeën voor het centrum kunnen dan een plaats krijgen in het advies aan het kabinet over de toekomst van de Afsluitdijk.

Het op te richten centrum moet een publieke attractie worden over technologische innovaties op het gebied van water, duurzame energie en natuur. Het sluit aan op andere ontwikkelingen en projecten zoals stimulering van de kenniseconomie in het noorden, het IJkdijk-project van TNO en aanleg van een glasvezelnetwerk.

De stichting ziet de Afsluitdijk als een unieke locatie omdat die de grens vormt tussen zoet en zout, een groot deel van Nederland tegen overstromingen beschermt en ligt tussen de Waddenzee en het IJsselmeer. Het duurzaamheidscentrum zou die status kunnen benadrukken en de Afsluitdijk ‘als icoon van duurzaamheid beleefbaar maken’.

De prijsvraag is gericht op architecten, stedenbouwkundigen en landschapsontwerpers. Nadere informatie staat op www.worldsustainabilitycentre.org. (EH)

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