In 2018, the Faculty of Law drew up its quality agreements. These were jointly submitted to the Executive Board of Radboud University by the faculty's Executive Board, the Faculty Student Council and the Representative Council. The Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) approved the proposed quality agreements.
The quality agreements are intended to bring about a visible improvement in the quality of education. This was also the aim of the new educational vision, ‘Meer Meester’ (More Mastery). The faculty adopted that vision in 2018 after extensive consultation with students, lecturers and external advisory boards. The quality agreements are in line with the faculty’s educational vision and the seven core values formulated therein; thus they contribute to achieving that vision. The core values are:
We believe it is of primary importance that lecturers guide the students, make them wiser with regard to the law, and stimulate them to develop into fully qualified jurists with a broad knowledge of Dutch law and a good understanding of European and international law.
We consider face-to-face education to be crucial to optimal knowledge transfer, interaction and exchange.
We believe that a modern and permanently employable jurist is competent in positive law and socially aware and can therefore contribute to solving society’s problems.
We assert that oral and written skills, and a good understanding of the role of ICT in law, are crucial for jurists who in the future will be confronted with complex problems and factual situations that must be solved in a multidisciplinary team or setting. We therefore pay considerable attention to the development of a well-defined set of soft skills (e.g., collaboration) and to the use of technical tools (with a view to the demands of the profession and business in the future).
We emphasise that students are responsible for their own studies and for their development into fully qualified jurists. The faculty will stimulate and facilitate this in every phase of the study programme.
We believe that students should be able to adapt quickly to a level of analysing, creating and evaluating. The faculty organises its education accordingly.
We encourage students to study at a reasonable pace. Nominal study is the starting point and, in any case, the faculty encourages students to complete their Bachelor’s degree in no more than four years and their Master’s degree in no more than 1.5 years.
The faculty enthusiastically embarked on the implementation of its educational vision and with it the implementation of the quality agreements. In spring 2020, the faculty was of course also faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications for education. Although this crisis made great demands on the mental stamina of both lecturers and students, and the staff's workload was undesirably high, the intended improvement and innovation of education was nevertheless continued during this period. Where possible, specific measures were taken in the context of the COVID-19 crisis in such a way that they continued to contribute to the higher goals of the educational vision and quality agreements. One example is the introduction of student tutoring (aimed at better guidance and social embedding of students).
This memorandum presents the state of affairs regarding the implementation of the plans from 2019 to 2021. It also outlines the plans for 2022 to 2024.
Use of resources
Original expenditure plan
Expenditures per theme
1. More intensive and smaller-scale education
2. Increased and improved guidance of students
4. Educational differentiation
5. Appropriate educational facilities of good quality
6. Continued professional development of lecturers
When deploying resources, the faculty prioritised the theme of more intensive and smaller-scale education, mainly by appointing additional lecturers. From the viewpoint of both personnel policy and the effective use of resources, it was decided to appoint several additional lecturers for a period of six years at the beginning of the quality agreements. This gave the departments additional capacity. It also means that in the coming years, the faculty will be able to ensure that students can follow small-scale and intensive tutorials several times a week in all the main subjects of the Bachelor’s programme. This is in line with the faculty’s ambitious vision for education. Moreover, the extra teaching capacity ensures that all departments can work on the improvement targets and innovations in education for several years.
These six-year appointments did, however, mean that from the start a relatively large amount of money was committed for the entire duration of the quality agreements. The participational bodies were explicitly included in this choice. Because this is a faculty-wide commitment, the resources it requires exceed the study financing resources and the remainder is covered by the faculty’s own contribution. This choice was of course made in careful consultation with the participational bodies and has the explicit approval of the participational bodies, both students and staff.
Realisation for 2019–2021, 2022 budget, and estimates for 2023–2024
Expenditures per theme
1. More intensive and smaller-scale education
2. Increased and improved guidance of students
4. Educational differentiation
5. Appropriate educational facilities of good quality
6. Continued professional development of lecturers
Notes on quality agreements expenditure per theme
To realise the faculty’s educational vision, improve education, and provide education that is as intensive and small-scale as possible, it is necessary to deploy additional lecturers. Furthermore, the faculty believes that student guidance is a responsibility shared by the student advisors and the lecturers from the departments. The NSS results show that our students highly value the involvement and availability of lecturers. The faculty considers this involvement to be essential for the education of its students, also outside of contact hours. This also requires sufficient lecturers to continue fulfilling this role. Finally, these same lecturers also contribute to educational differentiation. The ultimate goal is to raise the level of education as a whole and to involve all departments (and the instruction they provide).
In December 2021, an external committee carried out a mid-term review of education. This committee concluded that, despite COVID-19, the faculty is implementing an ambitious improvement agenda and is making good progress. However, the committee did warn about the workload of the faculty’s lecturers.
Theme 1: More intensive and smaller-scale education
In its plan submitted in 2018, the faculty expressed its commitment to educational intensity and innovation. The faculty did not want to have to work with tutorials of 32-35 students; instead, they wanted tutorials of about 25-27 students. With an enrolment of 500-600 first-year students (occasionally 700), this would require an investment in lecturers for all departments that offer tutorial education in the Bachelor’s phase. Educational intensity could be increased in the Master’s phase by introducing new courses and capping enrolment when necessary.
The education innovation that is desired (based on the ‘Meer Meester’ education vision) requires an investment in additional teaching staff. This involves both extra junior lecturers and permanent staff.
Finally, to ensure that the implementation would receive more attention from the board, a Director of Education was appointed on 1 January 2021. Prior to that date, the education portfolio was in the hands of the vice dean of education, who - like the staff of his own department - was overburdened as a result.
Between 2019 and 2021, several courses were changed so that they better aligned with the educational vision. This involved changes like:
Rolling out virtual tutorials
Developing an Atlas of International Legal Systems
Deploying Certego to help students with the multi-year mastery of a growing legal conceptual framework
Using (a series of) knowledge clips that make education more intensive, interactive and in-depth
Producing podcasts about imminent legislative changes
Introducing take home exams
Providing digital feedback on essays
Giving formative (interim) assessments/quizzes (especially in tutorials)
Introducing office hours
Offering an optional mock exam with feedback during courses
Showing a digital simulation of the legal process
Introducing student tutoring for first-year students (in which senior students offer weekly guidance to groups of 10 first-years, coached by an associate professor and a study advisor)
Developing and playing The Migration game
Introducing peer grades
Developing BA-3 electives into integration courses (expected to begin in 2022–2023).
Intensifying the Rota Carolina moot court (with more intensive personal feedback about students’ oral and written contributions)
The faculty has encouraged the departments to take the initiative for educational improvements. They have the best understanding of the changes that are appropriate for a specific course, and lecturers have different preferences. This approach also leads to diversity in education. Lunch meetings were the first step towards an exchange of knowledge. Due to COVID-19, this exchange received less attention than desired.
In 2019 and 2020, in accordance with the plan, additional junior lecturers and academic staff could be appointed in the following departments: General Law, Administrative Law, Civil Law, Constitutional Law, Tax Law, International and European Law, Business Law, Philosophy of Law, History of Law, Sociology of Law and Criminal Law.
In addition to the original budget, resources were reserved in 2021 to appoint an additional nine junior lecturers for a four-year period. This was done to reduce the pandemic-related workloads of the current temporary and permanent staff while continuing to focus on improvements and innovations in education.
An assistant professor of ICT and Law was appointed in the Civil Law department to develop the ICT and Law course. The B3 integration course AI and Law has been developed and will be offered from 1 September 2022. Two new Master’s courses in this field are also being developed: Privacy and Data Protection and Digital Dispute Resolution.
To support the educational capacity of the departments of the dean and vice dean of education, additional capacity was added to these officers’ departments of origin. This was initially done by adding junior lecturers to the relevant departments, in accordance with the submitted plan. From 2021 onwards, the deployment of extra support for the vice dean of education’s department was replaced by the deployment of a full-time Director of Education (a jurist with a PhD degree at the associate professor level). This has given an extra boost to the implementation of the educational vision and the improvement agenda.
Aanstelling additionele docenten
In 2021, new, up-to-date and more ambitious learning outcomes were established for all study programmes after extensive discussions with internal and external bodies. The quality committee is now preparing an advisory report on how to align the assessments with these new outcomes.
In addition, the set-up of the oral and written skills learning paths will be evaluated and expanded based on the revised learning outcomes.
Theme 2: Increased and improved guidance of students
In 2019, the initial plan was to appoint an additional student advisor for a two-year period specifically for Master’s students. This appointment has since been converted into a structural expansion of the staff. The progress of Master’s thesis students is monitored and, if necessary, they are actively approached about their progress and their contact with the thesis supervisor. That prevents students from ‘dropping off the radar’ at the end of their study programme and, if necessary, encourages them to complete it successfully. This clearly meets a need: students feel valued and seen in a phase of their studies that many consider to be lonely. Students who have been struggling with their Master’s thesis for some time find it particularly valuable to have someone who listens without judgement and can give them tips or refer them (e.g., to the Radboud Writing Lab or the study trainers). Even those who experience few problems appreciate the personal attention, and they know how to find the student advisor more easily if they still have questions or encounter problems.
In addition to this follow-up email, students know how to find the weekly thesis office hours. Thesis supervisors also consult with this student advisor when problems with students are identified. Based on a recommendation from the ‘thesis track’ work group and partly based on the findings of this student advisor, it has been decided to introduce a ‘new style’ Master’s thesis track. This thesis track will be limited in time and will include group meetings and peer feedback during the set-up phase, to better align it with the updated exit qualifications. A pilot project is now running in three departments (Criminal Law, Business Law and Tax Law). The pilot project started in November and the first experiences have received positive marks from both students and supervisors. This will be rolled out for all Master’s students in the 2022–2023 academic year.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the faculty also made agreements with the Radboud Writing Lab at the end of 2021 for several continual writing weeks specifically for our own thesis students. These weeks involve a joint start on Monday morning, contact with fellow students in small groups throughout the week to set and evaluate writing goals (partly under the supervision of a Writing Lab writing coach), and interactive lectures on aspects of academic writing. This is especially meant to support Master’s students who are in danger of dropping out of their studies due to the pandemic and help them complete their study programme successfully.
As a follow-up to the more intensive monitoring of Master’s students, an additional study advisor for Bachelor’s students was appointed in 2020 and 2021. By actively approaching students, we aim to provide more intensive and possibly more proactive guidance tailored to the target group. This entails an expansion of the initial plans. A proposal has also been developed to make it possible to write the Bachelor’s thesis for courses other than Civil Law. This curriculum change has been submitted to the representative bodies.
Temporary additional university resources (€75k) for the guidance of international students expired in 2018. In view of the quality agreements, it was decided to continue these additional resources and thus to continue the previously temporary expansion of the staffing level.
COVID-19 led to distance education, and this led the faculty to introduce student tutoring for first-year students in 2020. Every week, senior students guide a small group of first-year students. They help new first-year students find their way in the academic community in general and their study at the Faculty of Law in particular. They also prepare for the (online and in-person) tutorials together. In this way, the faculty offers the first-years a social structure that stimulates them to connect with (some) fellow students. The senior students receive coaching from an associate professor and a study advisor. This makes the tutorship an opportunity for the faculty to offer a group of about 60 motivated and talented senior students a formative and educational experience.
Based on the positive experiences of students and lecturers, the tutorship was continued in 2021 and will continue in 2022–2023. The costs for this were paid from the coronavirus funds and in the coming period will be covered by the NPO resources. The possibility of financing it from the faculty budget in other ways after 2023 will be examined.
The first-year Academic Skills course will be reviewed in 2022–2023.
Additional study advisor in the Master’s phase
Additional study advisors in the Bachelor’s phase
Continuing intensified guidance for international students
Academic Skills lecturer
Theme 4: Educational differentiation
The faculty seeks to offer education to motivated and talented students at all stages of their study programme. For some students, there is scope for additional activities and intensification in addition to the regular study programme. With the Radboud Law Talents programme, the faculty aims to provide students with extra opportunities in all phases of their education (from pre-university up to and including Master’s programmes). Previously developed programmes included Law Extra, the research Master’s programme, the dual Master’s programme and the Pre-university College. In connection with the quality agreements, the talent programme has been broadened to include the first-year programme and the Law in Action programme. Lateral entry into the various programmes is possible.
In 2020, additional capacity at the assistant professor level (0.4 FTE) was made available in addition to the resources already made available to support the development of these programmes.
A further 0.6 FTE at the assistant professor level has been reserved for the development of an international Law Clinic. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the original plans to start an initiative here with ASEAN partners (visited in 2019) have been transformed for now into a pilot project on Human Rights with European partners. This project will involve both academic and non-governmental organisations.
Support for expanding talent programme
Assistant professor for internationalisation
Theme 5: Appropriate educational facilities of good quality
To assist the teaching staff in using ICT more broadly in education, additional support staff were appointed and temporary support staff were converted to permanent staff. This was done according to plan.
This staff are used to support the production of knowledge clips, the use of the electronic learning environment, and digital assessment. From 2019 to 2021, 125 knowledge clips, 250 Grotius clips, 4 webinars and 1 podcast were produced. Knowledge clips will also be updated and adapted or produced anew.
The faculty now has support staff who are responsible for the production of knowledge clips, both in terms of technical production and preparation of scripts, etc. During the pandemic, a temporary studio was set up on campus where lecturers could record digital lectures using simpler tools and less support. Additional student assistants were appointed for this purpose. Those expenditures are not included in the reporting.
The ICT and Education work group (including lecturers and support staff) has drawn up an ICT in Education action plan. The combination of education-related input from the academic staff and advice on practical implementation methods and ICT developments from the support staff ensures that the plans are jointly supported and realistic. The choices made are in line with priorities set elsewhere in education (e.g., using (automated) rubrics in the context of strengthening the feedback component in assessment).
With the exception of oral exams (which fit into the educational concept, more specifically the oral skills learning path), the aim is to administer all exams digitally. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we initially used Brightspace, the electronic learning environment, to administer exams. This tool is not designed for digital assessment, but due to the lack of proctoring in the first phase of the pandemic, and with some adjustments to the set-up of the exams and a lot of extra effort by the teaching staff (multiple exam questions), examination could continue (while students were at home).
Cirrus is used for assessment on campus, and the faculty was able to administer all previously written exams digitally at the end of the first half-year. The support staff are responsible for training the lecturers in the use of this tool. Peer-to-peer instruction and support are also necessary and result in the use of a wider range of features in the available software packages. In this sense too, the faculty is a learning organisation.
Opening the library on Sundays during the exam period
The law library is now open on Saturdays and Sundays during the exam periods. This was an explicit wish of the Faculty Student Council. The faculty’s library is a popular place to study. Because of COVID-19, fewer students could use this space than desired in 2020 and 2021, but the opportunities that were available were fully utilised. Due to changes in control over the student workstations and the library (and the transfer of resources for this purpose), the opening of the library in the Faculty of Law building has been regulated at the university level since 2021.
Appointing ICT support staff
Sunday opening hours for the library
Theme 6: Continued professional development of lecturers
For the faculty, professional development for lecturers is characterised by the intensification and innovation of education and the implementation of the new education vision. In the legal profession and especially at law firms, the concept of obtaining professional education (PE) points is familiar to the faculty. This has inspired the faculty’s policy that lecturers must obtain 20 PE points per year in a non-legal subject.
In addition, the faculty has many junior lecturers and PhD candidates who are writing a PhD dissertation alongside their teaching duties. They are also given the opportunity to obtain UTQ certificates. With a workforce of approximately 200 FTE academic staff, 20 PE points per staff member comes to about 4,000 hours of work. Approximately 75% of the PE points relate to teaching.
This is capitalised at approximately €200k. Resources are also set aside for the training activities themselves. A large catalogue of training courses offered by Radboud University is used for these training activities. In addition, lunch meetings are organised during which there is peer-to-peer exchange of educational ideas and tools. Faculty education days were organised in 2019 and 2020. They were not organised in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are expected to resume.
Finally, several departments have now organised training days/afternoons for their own teaching staff with the help of external experts.
Due to the pandemic, most of those training sessions concerned skills that are necessary for digital education. There were few in-person meetings in 2020 and 2021.
Between 2022 and 2024, in addition to the already wide range of training courses available and the faculty education day, the faculty plans to arrange specific training courses tailored to the faculty’s educational improvement agenda. A plan for this will be made in 2022. This will replace the development of a more general training catalogue that is now offered at the university (particularly through the Teaching and Learning Centre). With two lecturers appointed to the Teaching and Learning Centre one day a week and one of the faculty’s innovation officers working at the same centre, the Faculty of Law is also well connected to developments taking place in the field of education innovation elsewhere at Radboud University and beyond.
20 PE points per academic staff member
Notes on the realisation process and the involvement of the participational bodies
The Faculty of Law greatly appreciates the availability of funds via the quality agreements, as it is widely believed that these funds have been and will continue to be crucial for the implementation of an effective renewal and improvement of education. The quality agreements are therefore closely aligned with and contribute to the educational vision ‘Meer Meester’ adopted in 2018. All relevant bodies were involved in the development of these plans. Within these bodies, there is broad and lasting support for the direction that the faculty has been able to take thanks to the funds.
A faculty work group chaired by Prof. J.B. Spath prepared the draft of the vision. The draft vision was then discussed with the department chairs and with the chair of the quality committee. In connection with this, the theme ‘The Jurist of the Future’ was discussed extensively with the external Academic Advisory Board as well as the external Advisory Council for Legal Practice (both permanent advisory boards for the faculty’s initial education). In plenary sessions in the faculty, the draft vision was discussed with lecturers and support staff as well as students. The vision was also discussed with the quality committee, the faculty programme committee and the faculty’s participational bodies. All this led to the adoption of the educational vision on 24 October 2018.
In anticipation of the adoption of the quality agreements, study financing resources were already used for ICT and Education. A limited portion of the resources for ICT and Education were temporarily made available by the Executive Board in 2017. To be able to make the desired investments in teaching staff across the faculty, the necessary additional funds were made available from faculty study financing resources. The use of the university resources as well as the own additional investment was discussed with the Representative Council and Faculty Student Council at the time and also reported to the Executive Board in a joint letter. The consulted bodies have always supported the proposals.
The changes to academic counselling were agreed to with the Faculty Student Council in early 2018.
In the second half of 2018, the draft quality agreements were discussed with the programme committee, the Faculty Student Council and the Representative Council as part of the 2019 faculty budget. The consulted bodies supported the draft quality agreements.
In the context of the 2020 and 2021 budgets, the quality agreements were put on the agenda for the programme committee, the Faculty Student Council and the Representative Council. The consulted bodies always expressed their support for the quality agreements.
The various substantive changes to (the learning outcomes of) the education programme, the Master’s thesis, the Bachelor’s thesis, the new structure of Bachelor’s courses and new Master’s courses were discussed with the programme committee, the Faculty Student Council and the Representative Council.
In addition, all changes relating to internationalisation in education were discussed (or proposed) by the RICOL (Radboud International College of Law), the permanent advisory board for internationalisation in education. For the changes to the learning outcomes, the board was advised by the Quality Assurance Committee. The ICT Committee advised about prioritising the use of ICT resources in education.
Proposals for changes in education and educational implementation then go through the usual procedure with the participational bodies.
Every year in August or September, before the budget discussion, the new members of the Faculty Student Council and the Representative Council are briefed on the quality agreement process up to that point and the possible opportunities for new investments. In January or February, the Faculty Student Council is informed of the status of the investments made in the past calendar year with regard to permanent staff positions.
Independent reflection from the participational bodies
The quality agreements have given education at Radboud University’s Faculty of Law a clear boost in terms of quality. From the beginning, a joint plan was worked on across the faculty. The quality agreements coincided with the project that had already been started to draw up a new vision on education; the quality agreements are part of the implementation of that vision. The educational vision was drawn up by a broad project group and in determining it, input was obtained from various bodies, such as the programme committee, the quality committee and the external advisory boards. Faculty bodies that deal with education always have a student member. Next, the educational vision – accompanied by these recommendations – was presented to the Faculty Joint Assembly (FGV). In September 2018, both the plans for the quality resources and the first version of the educational vision were presented in the same meeting. In the following meeting, the final version of the educational vision was discussed and approved. Around the same time, the quality agreements were submitted jointly by the faculty’s Executive Board and the FGV.
For the purpose of a proper implementation of the desired educational improvements based on the educational vision and the related quality agreements, special staff and student meetings were organised in the faculty. During these meetings, anyone who wanted could respond (in plenary session). The participational bodies were well represented at these meetings, both to give input and to listen to the questions from the organisation. This ensured that the faculty’s Executive Board, the participational bodies and the rest of the organisation remained ‘on the same page’.
During the further roll-out of the quality agreements and the new educational vision, the FGV remained firmly on board. Questions and comments from the FGV were responded to well by the board, and the board dealt with the comments satisfactorily and adjusted plans as needed. Bottlenecks identified by the participational bodies – such as the large increase in student numbers during this period that threatened the desired small scale – were dealt with well and with the approval of the FGV. This effort, combined with the short lines of communication in our faculty, has resulted in broad support for the educational innovations among our students and staff
The plans have been implemented gradually from 2019 onwards. The quality agreements also have been a recurring topic in the FGV. The chairs of the Faculty Student Council and the Representative Council receive regular updates on this subject (and others) from the administrative director. The quality agreements are part of the budgeting and reporting cycle. As part of that cycle, a clear overview of the progress of the agreements was submitted to the FGV for approval. The FGV was also informed about the NVAO advisory report on plan evaluation for quality agreements. On all these occasions, progress was discussed to the satisfaction of the FGV. The participational bodies were also involved in all projects related to the quality improvement of education, such as the Master’s thesis track, the exit qualifications and tutorship during the pandemic.
In short: the FGV believes it has been properly involved in drawing up and implementing the quality agreements and the educational vision, and would like to point out that it supports the content of both documents. The FGV is of the opinion that the quality funds have given a wonderful boost to improving the quality of education at our faculty. They are also satisfied with the way the funds have been used and the way the participational bodies and other committees in the faculty have been involved in the realisation and implementation.
Prof. F.G. Laagland
Prof. F.G. Laagland
Dhr. T. Loeffen