HAN starts a unique joint degree in life sciences with Dundee University

HAN and the University of Dundee School of Life Sciences have been collaborating for a long time now. Yet, what internationalisation coordinator Remko Bosch and Professor David Coates have been stirring up in the past years, is particularly interesting. Coming academic year, the new and highly ambitious Joint Degree in Biomolecular Sciences will start for a select group of students.

Academie Toegepaste Biowetenschappen en Chemie gaat samenwerken met de universiteit in Dundee. Op de foto David Coates en Remko Bosch (rechts)

Coates and Bosch are already caught up in an animated discussion on the contents of a fellow researcher’s thesis when the interview is about to begin. It’s clear that the two men have known each other for a while. Coates laughs. “Besides life sciences, discussing politics and science over a beer is a shared interest of ours as well.”

Combining skills and knowledge

In his position as Dean at the University of Dundee (UoD), Professor David Coates played an important role in helping the School of Life Sciences develop towards a more practical, skills-based program. “Focusing on theory only is pointless with the information available on the internet”, he explains. “We need to teach students how to use that information. This is an important reason why we’ve been looking to intensify our collaboration with the HAN.”

Remko Bosch, Internationalisation coordinator of Life Sciences at HAN, shows similar enthusiasm to the UK professor sitting across from him. “Where we offer a vast array of opportunities to develop practical research skills, Dundee has a great reputation as a research university”, Remko says. “They're ranked among the top 50 in the world.”

Intentionally intense

Dundee University and HAN were already exchanging students on a regular basis, and some 10 years ago Coates and Bosch decided to take this collaboration a step further. “We realized there’s so much we have to offer each other”, Coates emphasizes. “So at some point, Remko and I decided we wanted to set up a joint bachelor degree.”

The Joint Degree in Biomolecular Sciences is meant for students looking for a serious challenge. The first 2 years of the program will take place at HAN, where students will get all the practical research know-how they need. After that, they'll develop in-depth theoretical knowledge during 2 years in Dundee. Leading to a joint degree signed by both HAN and the University of Dundee, which will be called a ‘bachelor with honors’.

It will be intense, but intentionally so. “And looking at the drive of many of our current students, I’m confident this program will attract plenty of interest”, says Bosch.

Promising future

“Coming to Dundee, one of my main goals has been to make sure that what we teach translates into influential roles after their graduation”, Coates adds. “This program will certainly add to that.”

Bosch and Coates had hoped to start the program sooner, but they encountered some difficulties. “The idea is actually already 10 years old”, says Bosch. “Brexit changed everything”, Coates explains with a sigh. “We had to redesign our whole plan.”

The two refused to let this setback break their spirits, however. They are both determined to make this joint degree work because they are convinced of its added value. And now that moment is almost there.

'Quality increase of our school'

To celebrate this upcoming milestone, a delegation from the University of Dundee and the School of Applied Biosciences and Chemistry met at HAN Campus in Arnhem to sign a collaborative partnership. Rob Verhofstad, President of the Executive Board from HAN said that the cooperation is very important to HAN. “We are taking major steps to increase the quality of our institution. This means quality in our study programs and in research. This is the starting point for a new period. ”

Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, thanked his Dundee and HAN colleagues for their outstanding work in preparing this joint program. “We are University of Dundee for Dundee with global reach.”

Of course Bosch and Coates were part of the signing delegation. The joint degree in Biomolecular Sciences could very well be David Coates’ last trick before his retirement. He’ll be happy to see his beloved Institute of Life Sciences at Dundee off with this brand-new, highly promising joint degree.

Want to know more about the joint degree and the collaboration between HAN and the University of Dundee? Send an email to remko.bosch@han.nl.

Photo David van Haren