Esmee Visser is surprise winner of 5,000 metres gold medal

Esmee Visser is surprise winner of 5,000 metres gold medal

Esmee Visser, skating in her first Olympics at the age of 21, beat one of the greats of women’s distance speed skating on Friday, clinching the 5,000 metres gold medal in a time of 6.50.23 ‘It is really fantastic, I don’t know what to say,’ Visser said after her surprise victory. The Czech Republic’s Martina Sábliková, who took the title in 2010 and 2014, won silver and Natalia Voronina of Russia the bronze. Visser, who covered the distance 12 seconds slower at the Dutch championships in October, is not backed by a commercial team and has spent her time preparing for the games with junior skaters in Groningen, broadcaster NOS said. Visser is only the second Dutch woman to win Olympic gold at the distance.  The first was Yvonne van Gennip at the Calgary Olympics 30 years ago. The Netherlands has now won gold in six of the seven speed skating events so far.   More >

International student high at tech unis

Bald eagle alert: Lady Maya flies off after conflict with gang of gulls The number of foreign students doing engineering and technical degrees in the Netherlands has never been higher, reports the Financieele Dagblad on Friday. Figures released from international education body Nuffic show that in the 2017/18 academic year, one in three Master’s degree students at the universities of Delft, Wageningen, Eindhoven and Enschede comes from abroad. The total number of degree students has risen from 3,751 in 2006 to more than 12,000 in the current academic year, with particularly high numbers from Germany, China and India. But the FD puts the numbers in the context of a debate around whether Dutch students are being disadvantaged by degree courses offered in English – something the Telegraaf called ‘English madness’ last month. ‘Internationalisation is a good thing but if the over-representation of foreign students becomes a problem, universities should ask themselves if they should be offering certain subjects in English,’ said Pieter Duisenberg, chairman of the Dutch universities association VSNU to the Telegraaf at the time. Fees His organisation told the FD on Friday that it could not confirm whether foreign students are displacing Dutch ones but said that if there was a suspicion of this, universities could reserve a number of places for local applicants. Anne Lutgerink, a spokesperson for Nuffic, told that while foreign students are commonly charged higher fees at English and American universities, this has not necessarily been the case in the Netherlands. She said the number of students at technical universities in general, both Dutch and international, has risen after campaigns to fill jobs in these areas – but that the amount of money from government still comes from the same pot. ‘In the US and UK, it is considered normal to attract international students from a profit perspective,’ she said. ‘That’s not considered the case in the Netherlands: they try to make it as cost-efficient as possible.’ She added that Nuffic supports internationalisation that enriches the quality of education. ‘It’s not a goal in itself,’ she added. ‘You can never say there should be a maximum or minimum of international students, but use it to the benefit of education.’ Non-EEA stop Delft University of Technology has said that from 1st February 2018, no non-EEA students will be considered for its next bachelors of computer science and engineering course, due to a massive increase in applications. 'We are very pleased about this popularity, and our position in the league tables, but we want to ensure the quality of our education so unfortunately we have to take this step,' a spokeswoman told 'It is important to have experiences with other cultures, but there must be a bit of a balance, and 50:50 Dutch and international is a nice number.' She added that foreign students are not charged disproportionately. 'We don't see it as income,' she said. 'Non-European students pay €10,000 a year, which is what we would get from the government.' But the FD cited the Dutch education ministry as saying it would be illegal to stop considering students from certain countries.  More >

Safari park hunts for missing bald eagle

Bald eagle alert: Lady Maya flies off after conflict with gang of gulls The Beekse Bergen safari park south of Tilburg has put out an appeal for its American bald eagle, who flew off during a demonstration earlier this week. Lady Maya, who has been at the zoo for 27 years and has a 2.5 metre wingspan, flew away after what the safari park calls an ‘conflict’ with a group of gulls on Tuesday afternoon. People who spot the eagle are being urged not to approach her. ‘She is a tough lady but she can be frightened and fly off again,’ the safari park said. The park’s birds of prey are not kept in cages and can fly away if they want to, spokesman Klaas-Jan Leinenga told the NRC. ‘But they are so attached to their keepers that they never do.’ The American bald eagle is easy to spot with its white neck and yellow beak. The bird is not native to Europe and lives mainly on the North American coast. Transmitter Lady Maya is fitted with a transmitter and is known to have hung around the park on Wednesday, but by Thursday she could no longer be tracked. Some tips have already come into the safari park and staff have driven to the spots in the hope to pick up a transmitter signal. Leinenga expects the bird to survive easily in the wild and says she will feast on pigeons and rabbits. In the meantime, Leinenga says he hopes she will return to the park. Losing her, he says, would be a major blow. ‘Our aim is to inspire people appreciate nature,’ he said. ‘If you see Lady Maya, you want to protect her as well.’   More >

Greenpeace protestors occupy North Sea rig

Greenpeace protestors occupy North Sea rig, three arrested in Lauwersoog Police in the Groningen port of Lauwersoog have arrested three members of the environmental organisation Greenpeace for getting too close to a drilling rig off the coast of the Wadden island of Schiermonnikoog. The three were taking part in a protest against test drilling for gas but had returned to the mainland because they were seasick in the rough seas, broadcaster NOS said.   The platform, owned by a company called Hansa Hydrocarbons, is some 20km into the North Sea and was occupied by several Greenpeace protesters on Thursday. Protests are also taking place on the Wadden Sea island itself. The island's mayor Ineke van Gent, who has joined the protestors, told local broadcaster RTV Noord: 'We should be moving over to sustainable energy. You should not be drilling for gas near a vulnerable nature reserve.' Economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes said on Thursday that locals should not be worried about the test drilling. 'You hardly see the rig,' he said. 'On a clear day, if you look closely, you can see a spot.' British company Hansa Hydrocarbons is trying to establish if the gas field in the area is big enough to exploit commercially.  More >

Schiphol renews calls for more capacity

Bald eagle alert: Lady Maya flies off after conflict with gang of gulls The Schiphol airport group on Friday repeated its now familiar call for new discussions over the 500,000 flight movements cap in place through 2020. The Dutch airport, third-largest in Europe, effectively reached that limit last year. Schiphol CEO Jos Nijhuis said in the group's annual earnings statement it is vital to agree now about how Schiphol can safely and responsibly continue to grow past 2020. Schiphol handled nearly 497,00 takeoffs and landings in 2017 when 68.5 million passengers moved through the Amsterdam airport. Extra measures were needed to smooth the passenger flow during peak periods. 'This calls for new agreements on the long-term safe, smart and sustainable development of aviation beyond 2020 to enable us to continue fulfilling our socio-economic role – connecting the Netherlands to the rest of the world,' Nijhuis said. The Schiphol group, which also operates Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Lelystad airports, reported net profit 8.7% higher at €280m on turnover of €1.458bn, an increase of 1.5%. Revenue generated by retail concessions and parking increased.  Average retail spending per departing passenger in the shops behind the security checks at Schiphol fell by 2.2% to €13.35 (€13.65). At the same time, average spending per departing passenger in catering facilities rose by 8.4% to €4.68 (€4.32), Schiphol said.  More >