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Recurring themes

RECURRING THEMES IN THE DISCUSSION ON THE STRATEGY UT / VISION 2020:

Why did the UT choose the themes Health, Safety and Smart Cities?

A: Within every chosen theme, the UT has certain strengths, spread over several faculties and/or institutions. Our excellence is in connecting these and creating a new or stronger ‘value chain’. Moreover, these three themes connect to important funding sources for research, such as the EU/Horizon2020, the Dutch national ‘Topsectoren’ etc.

Q: What criteria underlies the choice for these three themes? Should excellence not be the criteria for selecting the themes, and if so the UT might not come to these three themes.

Multidisciplinary collaborations with other (research) institutions, and then….?

A: This example fits our ambitions in two ways: 1) If you need expertise on social sciences, researchers from the Institute for Innovation and Governance Studies can help you identify relevant partners and advise on finding the right colleagues at other universities. 2) As a university we can also bring both our strengths (High Tech, Human Touch) into a consortium. If we accomplish that, we have an unique selling point in Brussels.

Q: I’m active in a consortium of a FP7 project focused on smart cities. The UT provides the technological input, but the input from social sciences comes from a university in Poland. How does this collaboration relate to the ambitions of the UT to stimulate multidisciplinary research, but specifically within our own institution?

Who publishes the results of multidisciplinary research?

A: Write different versions of the article, focused on different publishers (target groups) /// As a ‘risk taking’ university, the UT should set the bar in getting the output of our multidisciplinary research published. An example is Emory University, an institution which defines success as the extent to which its research translates into societal impact. This type of goal/measurement is also a topic in the debate regarding the strategy of the UT. /// In any case, also with multidisciplinary research, researchers should aim for getting published in top scientific journals. If one does not succeed, alternative journals are always available.

Q: Where can one publish the results of multidisciplinary research?

How does the university encourage multidisciplinary research?

A: The board will provide researchers with a stimulating ‘eco-system.’ An example is the development of the Design Center where researchers of all disciplines collaborate. Collaborations emerge best bottom up. Researchers who have interesting subjects to share will meet their colleagues by themselves. The UT should only facilitate these spontaneous meetings if necessary, as happens with the members of JA@UT. What really is important is that there is seed funding available for the most interesting interdisciplinary initiatives which arise bottom-up. Real exciting and innovative ideas for instance have to be eligible for a review by a committee of wise men.

Q: Are there incentives for multidisciplinary research?

What is the definition of multidisciplinary research?

A: Often it starts with combining two disciplines, which may eventually lead to a new field of research. To illustrate; the combination of Mathematics and Electronics led to Computer Science. Different stages of multidisciplinary collaboration can be identified.

Q: How does the university define multidisciplinary research? Is it simply a combination of two disciplines or is it a new field of research resulting from collaboration?

How should we respond the conditions of EU subsidies regarding the co-operation between institutions?

A: Towards the EU co-operation between disciplines of the UT only is not enough. For the EU subsidies it is necessary to co-operate with external partners from different countries (with the possible exception of Synergy Grants). What can be done within the UT is to support each other to find connections with potential, interesting external research partners. Therefore it is necessary to meet colleagues and to share the knowledge you have of your scientific field with colleagues of the UT.

Q: Read the answer here.

Discussion - ITC

How do we attract the best people?

A: We must make the most of our talents, both those of the staff and students, and those of the institution as a whole. We can be entrepreneurial, by identifying opportunities and seizing them. Using a well-defined profile, we seek out niches in which we can excel, then we match these with the most suitable students. A prime example of this is the initial MSc that is currently under development at ITC. Being a relatively minor player, we may not be able to out-compete other institutions, so we will have to cooperate instead. Our existing partnerships not only convey a great deal about us as a university, they also give us a clear market profile. This is what attracts people to study at our institution.

In the past, this strategy was never really put into effect, so how are we going to handle things this time round?

A: The existing strategy does not need to be reformulated; it just needs to be defined more clearly. We found that implementing a completely new strategy was a much more complex process. While we have already dealt successfully with most of the issues involved, if we work together we can examine things in greater detail.

During the ‘Create’ event, mention was also made of involving regional partners, yet we also want to internationalize. How can these two aims be reconciled?

A: We continue to play a regional role, both because we must and because we have a genuine desire to do so. Many of the undergraduates are from this region, and we are one of its major employers. It’s not a question of one or the other, it’s both. Beyond this role, we can certainly be a major international player and partner as well.

What is ‘internationalization’ anyway? There seems to be quite a lot of confusion about this.

A: We will become a player in the international field. We will achieve this by means of international partnerships, and by providing education and research that is internationally relevant and that sparks people’s interest. We are already making very effective use of this approach in the research area. In the field of education, there is scope for increased efforts in this regard. There is more to an international institution than just ‘translating’, it must also offer an international experience. One way that we do this, for example, is to send students abroad while bringing in others from outside the Netherlands, all on a temporary basis. We can easily access these groups online, but the ‘experience’ factor continues to be a major focus for us.

Will the strategy include internationalization in the form of development cooperation?

A: At present, there are no plans to make development cooperation a focus of the University of Twente as a whole. We will, of course, take on board the experience gained, while allowing the ITC to function as a networking vehicle. There is a special focus on recruitment in less obvious countries (besides those countries that would be obvious choices). This is something that the ITC does very well, and the university as a whole can learn from its example.

To what extent do we examine the approaches taken by other universities?

A: We make visits and have contacts all over the world. Our conversations, naturally, touch on strategy formation and the lessons learned. We test what others have learned and take this on board, where that is feasible and desirable. On 21 May, during the Innovation Lecture event, an invited speaker from outside the Netherlands will present details of the lessons that they have learned in this regard.

How closely do we monitor the gap between applications and registrations at international level?

A: We can certainly benefit from the ITC’s expertise and experience in this area. Experience shows that, compared to domestic applicants, proportionally fewer applicants from outside the Netherlands actually turn up.

In terms of internationalization, what is the balance between online (MOOCs) and physical courses?

A: We are experimenting with MOOCs, but this is an expensive exercise. We are testing the effectiveness of this approach, while finding out how to get the best results. It is more than a matter of just making a video of a professor/lecture. We also want to retain our prime focus of providing a real experience. Nevertheless, we can use this approach to make our educational programmes easily accessible. We can then try to get the groups we have reached to actually come to the campus.