The University of Twente's FlexSciLabs project is among the Dutch Education Prize 2023 nominees. Nine education teams from mbo schools, universities of applied sciences and universities will receive the prize during the Comenius Festival on 29 June. Minister Dijkgraaf will then reveal who is in first, second and third place and award the prizes.
The Dutch Education Prize is the highest award in secondary vocational education and higher education. The prize is awarded to education teams in appreciation of, and as an impetus for, educational innovation and improvement in senior secondary vocational, higher vocational and university education. The prize is awarded annually to education teams that have developed an educational initiative in the past four years. This year, for the first time, the prize will also be awarded to educational teams in mbo.
FlexSciLabs work on making practical education more flexible within the Applied Physics (TN), Chemical Science and Engineering (CSE) and Advanced Technology (AT) programmes of the TNW faculty. Flexibilisation is reflected in students doing their practicals and projects at any time and place they want. This creates less stress as students can organise their education themselves. It also makes education more accessible to people who otherwise have difficulty attending fixed times, such as top athletes or people with disabilities. In addition, it promotes students' independence and gives them ownership of the learning process, which in turn enhances learning. Examples of FlexSciLabs include TN's Module 4 project in which M&M sorting machines are built, and the final project of the Polymer Physics subject within CSE that recently led to a publication.
Essential to the success of FlexSciLabs is the broad background of the people working on it. The team includes teachers, students, technicians, educationalists, managers and even high school teachers. By combining the expertise of all these people, but also by taking student feedback seriously, FlexSciLabs has continued to improve and has now led to the National Education Prize. The UT team behind FlexSciLabs consists of Sissi de Beer, Leonie Chapel, Noah van Dijk, Stefan Kooij, Aernout van Rossum, Arnoud Onnink, Paul Rupert, Imre van Veldhoven, Jeroen Verschuur and Herbert Wormeester.
On 29 June, it will become clear which contribution the team will receive. At the Dutch Education Prize, there is a total of 7.5 million euros to be divided between three teams from secondary vocational education (2.5 million euros), three teams from higher vocational education (2.5 million euros) and three teams from scientific education (2.5 million euros). The three teams per sector will receive €1.2 million, €800,000 or €500,000, respectively. The funds are provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
With the prize money, the UT team wants to take a professionalisation step and investigate more precisely why FlexSciLabs works so well. In addition, the ambition is to translate FlexSciLabs into projects for secondary and primary schools and projects in countries where less money is available for education.
Last year, the Dutch Education Prize for higher education was won by the Master-insert Shaping Responsible Futures.