100 jaar hoger textielonderwijs Enschede

100 years of Textiles in higher education in Enschede: textiles as fundamental necessity

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The Hogere Textielschool (School of Higher Education in Textiles), a forerunner of the Fashion & Textile Technologies programme, has been underway for 100 years. It is obvious that textiles have played an important role in the Twente region; the region prospered thanks to the textile industry. However many of the large factories have since disappeared. Despite the loss of the textile giants, textiles education has held strong. This is something that we wish to reflect on this year; over 100 years of Textiles in higher education and the changing role of the textile professional.

"It's important to note that education in textiles is much a growing industry now as it ever was.", said Marie Anne Roozen, chairperson of the De Maere foundation. The foundation is a bastion of the textiles education culture in Enschede. "We were established by the factory owners and the municipality of Enschede, 70 years ago, to promote education in textiles." A noble task, Roozen feels, "because Saxion has the only textile technology programme in the Netherlands. It's the oldest hbo-degree programme in the country after the maritime programme in Vlissingen."

Roozen describes textiles as a fundamental necessity. It is something that we come in contact with on a daily basis. They cover us from head to foot. "People usually associate the word textiles with clothing", said Roozen. "But it is much more than that. We sleep under textiles. We walk on textiles. they are used as insulation in houses, and reinforcement in dikes. It is one of the most diverse industries in the world.


The Hogere Textielschool was established on 17 July 1918. There had been textile schools before this, but they were at the level of intermediate vocational education. Textiles education caught on and began to experience dynamic development after the second world war. While the Netherlands was undergoing reconstruction, the textiles industry grew alongside, and the number of students in the Hogere Textielschool grew rapidly alongside. A range of tasks were carried out for the business sector, and the first international students from China and Indonesia were welcomed. However, when the textile industry experienced problems, the numbers of those following textiles education programmes declined. Since the 1980's, there has been a resurgence in the numbers of students, buoyed by the addition of fashion to the education programmes.

The current Fashion & Textile Technologies programme had transformed into something very different from the original textile education programme. The profession of the textile technician has undergone real change. Roozen knows this better than anyone having studied in Enschede herself, 50 years ago. "At that time, we really only studied the basics. Spinning, weaving, dying, pressing, etcetera. There was no focus on research. That is now completely different." This was acknowledged by the Fashion & Textile Technologies programme manager, Sacha Tournier. "The textile technician has grown from a practice oriented textile professional to an innovative professional who works very closely with the professional field. We educate our students to come up with solutions for the problems we come across in the industry.

This doesn't mean that our students no longer experience life at the loom. Tournier: "Students are still taught the basics of how fibres are put together. They must have this level of practical knowledge, which you can only get through experience. That's why we still use looms and knitting machines on the programme. It is essential that students use them to make things. They need to know how specific products are constructed.


The Hogere Textielschool is one of the forerunners to the Fashion & Textile Technologies programme; memories of the school are still very much alive. If you walk out of the main exit towards Van Galenstraat and look to the right, you can still see the Hogere Textielschool building. Currently it is used as an ROC Twente location. It was named, in 1922, after Charles Louis de Maere, a Belgian who moved his fur weaving mill to the Netherlands after the separation of the Netherlands. He played an important role in the improvement and training within the textile industry.

One building further along, in the Saxion building, Epy Drost, students from the Fashion & Textile Technologies programme of today work on their future. The building has a futuristic look in sharp contrast to the historic De Maere. The contrast between the modern and classic buildings is symbolic of the path that the textile world and education have made in the last hundred years; From traditional to progressive. 'The textile industry has undergone significant developments, said Tournier. "The traditional textile industry with spinning, weaving and knitting is disappearing, but new markets are emerging. TenCate is a company which has responded well to

these changes by working in a very innovative way. They still use old looms, but fabrics are woven using extremely technical materials. These are used for fire-fighters, or police uniforms and bulletproof vests, among others. The developments that TenCate has made is a fine example of changes that have taken place in education. We move with the times. It has become much more important to develop both new materials and combinations of new materials and techniques requiring a lot of knowledge which students can acquire from us. That's why we started the Master's programme four years ago.


As Anne Roozen has already indicated, the textile professional of today is less practice-oriented than in the beginning years. Education has become more research-focussed. Students work on new products and smart solutions to problems. In that regard, a lot of attention is paid to sustainability. "As the first education programme within Saxion, we have attained three stars for Sustainable Higher Education certification", Tournier stated. It's not for nothing we say of the programme that: ‘Together with our worldwide partners we educate students in fashion and textiles, who make brave choices for a fair and clean industry’. "Textiles education is much more than fashion and clothing", said Raimond Bartelink, head of the School of Creative Technology (ACT) which the Fashion and Textile Technologies programme is part of, along with others. "It is increasingly more about sustainability and recycling of materials." Education is also moving in this direction. We increasingly conduct research into sustainability and get a lot of questions about this from the business world.

The Future

Textiles education has developed rapidly over the years. Sometimes this was out of necessity because the times demanded it. In recent years, Saxion has demonstrated itself to be a progressive research centre, in which the professional of tomorrow is educated to be an all-round textile technician. What does the future look like? Tournier: "We're already thinking about that. I believe the students will be more discerning about the products that they deliver, and they will play an increasingly active role in shaping their own studies. The role of lecturers will consequently begin to transform: from expert sources of wisdom, to experts coaching students towards seeking answers to their own questions. Students will be equipped with basic knowledge so that they can work on professionally-oriented, challenging tasks, together with research groups and the business community. Through this collaboration, I expect that students of the future will be better prepared for the world of work.

Bartelink added: "In the future, we will seek more connections to the business community and place more emphasis on the role of conducting research in the programme. There are so many possibilities. Moreover, I expect that the student will be educated far less one-dimensionally. The textile sector is very diverse. The range of products that are being developed are broad that there is a lot of crossover with other disciplines. Ultimately, we will end up with a different type of student."