Newsletter January 2009

University Council Newsletter 2009-01-29

The most important items on the agenda of the first meeting with the Executive Board in the new year are the pilot for a Bindend Studieadvies (BSA) and the installation of the Mid Term Review (MTR) for all the study programs as part of the Instellingskwaliteitszorg Systeem (IKS). Furthermore the university council also prepared several questions about the new Master program Risk Management.

Pilot Bindend Studieadvies (BSA).

The university is required by law to give an advice to her students at the end of their first year at the university. The university can in some cases tie a restriction to this advice. If a student fails to earn a certain predetermined amount of credits he or she cannot continue with his or her study. This is called a BSA. The main purpose of a BSA according to the Executive Board is the function of directing students to their correct place: that is if they do not meet the requirements set by the BSA the students get directed to a different study, a different university or HBO. A BSA is an instrument that can be used in preventing students from eventually quitting their study. For these reasons the Exectutive Board of the university has formulated the BSA. Before implementing this instrument across the whole of the university three bachelor programs will take part in the pilot version of the BSA. Namely the bachelor programs of Communication Studies (CW), Chemical Engineering (ST), and Applied Physics (TN).

The university council has agreed to the pilot version of the BSA with the notion that the evaluation criteria will be presented to the council (within six months). The council also sought to see the pilot to be presented to the university council may the Executive Board decide to implement this instrument across the whole university.

Instellingskwaliteitszorg Systeem (IKS) for UT study programs.

The discussions surrounding the IKS in several committees have focused mostly on the sharpening of various quality assurances of the study programs. The Executive Board sees an excellent tool in the form of a Mid-Term Review. This Mid-Term Review will take place at the middle point of the current accreditation cycle. Every 6 years all the study programs are evaluated by an external committee which reports to the ministry of education.

The university council – and the rest of the university community – were divided on the matter. The university council is in agreement that the matter presented, quality assurance in education, is one of great importance to the university. The way quality assurance was pursued by the Executive Board in the form of the implementation of the Mid-Term Review left the council divided. Members opposed to the idea of a Mid-Term Review were concerned about the amount of paperwork an instrument such as the Mid-Term Review would imply and were against the mandatory requirement that every study program, even the ones that did score high with external visitations, were required to also comply to the full extent of a Mid-Term Review. Members of the university council that were opposed saw more benefit in differentiating between the current available instruments in the planning and control cycle. Increasing the effectiveness of these instruments. Members in favor of the implementation of a Mid-Term Review were still concerned with the support coming from the rest of the community and the way this instrument is supposed to cover all the basis on which a study program is scored during visitations.

Following the extensive discussion with the Executive Board surrounding the IKS the university council has asked the Board to present them with a new proposal for quality assurance. This proposal will be presented to the university council.

Master program Risk Management.

On the website of the university the council was surprised to find the news of a newly formed postinitial master program Risk Management. The council presented the board with various questions concerning the new installment of this program at the university. The accreditation process has not been completed (which in turn means that the students currently enrolled in this program cannot receive a master of science degree). Also the program has not been presented to the university council who has to agree with every new study program at the university. The university council was very concerned and deeply disappointed in how this incident could occur at our university. The Executive Board has spoken out on the issue and has said it deeply regrets this incident. Students currently enrolled in the program will be notified on the current accreditation process.

Other points.

In line with the discussion on quality assurance the council has also asked the Board how they decide on matters that are taken care of by external companies. For example: the quality of the coffee available at the university. This might have been of great quality when the contract was signed, but the quality of said product might differ now. Also brought to the attention of the board was the matter of the amount of green on the campus. The university council has received word of concern coming from the staff of the university that the renovation of the hotel De Drienerburght will result in the deforestation of a part of the campus to make room for a new hotel. The issues at hand have been noted by the Executive Board.

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