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1. Developments in education

Quality assurance: Five study programmes received positive assessments

The following study programmes received positive assessments in 2021.

  • Faculty of Social Sciences: the Research Master’s programmes in Behavioural Sciences and Social and Cultural Science: Comparative Research on Societies.

  • Faculty of Arts: the Research Master’s programmes in Linguistics and Communication Sciences and Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies.

  • Faculty of Law: the Research Master’s programme in Business and Law.

  • Faculty of Medical Sciences: the post-initial Master’s programme in Quality and Safety in Patient Care and the Research Master’s programme in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease.

  • Faculty of Science: the Bachelor’s programme in Biology and the Master’s programmes in Biology and Medical Biology.

A request for continued accreditation of all these study programmes has been submitted to the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO).

A mid-term quality assurance review was conducted in 2021. A ‘quality summary’ was drawn up for each faculty based on existing information and interviews with key figures in the faculties. Each quality summary mapped out the functioning of the quality culture and the quality assurance system and outlined the involvement of the participational bodies, the external advisory boards and other stakeholders. They also describe the ambitions and progress in educational improvement and innovation for each faculty. Finally, they show how the planning & control cycles interact at various levels.

Together, the quality summaries provide a good understanding of how quality assurance works in the faculties. A quality summary that goes beyond the faculties will be drawn up in early 2022, and it will provide starting points for the next steps in Radboud University’s quality assurance system.

Good scores on student surveys

In the various surveys on educational quality, Radboud University once again came out on top in 2021.

In the spring of 2021, nearly 10,000 Radboud University students participated in the National Student Survey (NSS), a high turnout. The results show that Radboud University students are generally (quite) satisfied with their study programme. This is reflected in the assessment of various statements (on a scale of 1 to 5), for three of which Radboud University students have a significantly higher opinion than students at other universities. The three statements are:

- General satisfaction with the study programme: 3.92
- General satisfaction with the atmosphere of the study programme: 4.03
- Would choose the same study programme again: 4.12

According to the Keuzegids Universiteiten 2022, Radboud University is the second best general university in the Netherlands. We only scored half a point less than first place Utrecht University, which was awarded 64.5 out of 100 points. This independent guide to Bachelor’s programmes is largely based on the NSS. Points are assigned for areas such as quality of the content of the programme, lecturers, assessment, career orientation, and ambiance. Due to the new structure of the NSS, the areas for assessment differ from previous years. As such, the new rankings and assessments are not directly comparable with previous years.

Six of Radboud University’s Bachelor’s programmes received the ‘Top Programme’ designation due to their high scores: Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Dutch Language and Culture, Pedagogical Sciences of Elementary Education, Romance Languages and Culture Studies, and Dentistry. Another three study programmes did not receive the ‘Top Programme’ designation but did rank first in their field: Dutch Language and Culture, Notarial Law and Political Science.

Elsevier’s ‘Best study programmes 2021’ awarded gold, silver or bronze medals to 11 study programmes at Radboud University. These study programmes were rated by students as above average in their field. Elsevier also uses results from the NSS, so most medal winners can be found in the summary above. Not yet mentioned study programmes with a medal: Communication Science, Physics and Astronomy, Art History, Law, and Sociology. Elsevier also awards medals to Master’s programmes, two of which are in Nijmegen: Communication Science and Dentistry.

Grants awarded for education

Comenius grant

The Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO) has awarded Comenius grants to four Radboud lecturers. The grants will enable the lecturers to put into practice their ideas for innovation in education. One of the grants will be used to update biodiversity education (Constant Swinkels and Wilco Verberk). The other two grant recipients are connected to Radboud university medical center: Jeanette Mostert for developing an educational module about commercial health checks, and Petra van Gurp for her project ‘Your world and me’, which shows students that as a doctor you can still be yourself, with your own qualities and shortcomings.

Teachers in Residence

Eight new Teachers in Residence joined the Faculty of Arts in 2021. They combine a job as a teacher in secondary education with an appointment at the university. In so doing, they help improve the connection between secondary education and the university, and they encourage students to get to know the teaching profession. Our Faculty of Arts introduced the concept six years ago and it is now the first faculty to have a Teacher in Residence for each school subject within the fields of language and culture, history, art and communication.

Two University Education Awards

The 2021 University Education Award was awarded to Rianne van Melik, and the University Education Award for Talent was awarded to Matthijs Moorkamp. Both are part of the Nijmegen School of Management. Van Melik is Associate Professor of Geography, and her achievements include being an educational innovator and a driving force behind key improvements in the curriculum. Moorkamp is Assistant Professor of Organizational Design and Development, and he uses his work experience as a consultant to link theory to (professional) practice in an engaging way.

Radboud Teachers Academy: Tackling the teacher shortage

The Radboud Teachers Academy (RDA) is once again fully committed to national, regional and local initiatives to combat the teacher shortage and improve the quality of teacher training study programmes in 2021. These efforts resulted in increasing enrolments (224 in 2021 versus an average of 188 in 2017–2019).

The RDA was able to achieve this feat thanks to collaborations with other training institutes and schools, known as partnerships in which prospective teachers are trained. In 2021, the number of partnerships increased to 14 with the addition of our partnership with the existing school of education in Limburg. In addition, a joint grant application with Windesheim University of Applied Sciences and the schools of the Veluwse Onderwijsgroep (Veluwe Educational Group) led to the establishment of yet another new partnership.

The new partnerships mean that starting in 2022, students from Limburg and Apeldoorn can be trained as first-level teachers in their own regions. Monique Scheepers, general director of RDA: “It’s wonderful that students from South Limburg now also have easy access to first-level teacher training study programmes. This will help to reduce the shortage of academically trained teachers in Limburg.”

The quality of education depends highly on the availability and well-being of teachers. Teacher shortages are partly caused by a (too) low intake in the profession, but also by high teacher dropout rates in the first years of employment. In 2021, the RDA was awarded a grant of just under €600,000 to research the factors that contribute to burnout and teacher dropout. A unique feature of the project is that it is being carried out in various sectors (primary education, secondary education and senior secondary vocational education) and it will involve both novice and experienced teachers. The research will address the tensions teachers experience about their roles in the school, which are believed to negatively affect their well-being and increase dropout rates.

“Students from South Limburg now also have easy access to first-level teacher training study programmes. This will help to reduce the shortage of academically trained teachers in Limburg.”

Monique Scheepers, general director of Radboud Teachers Academy

Teaching and Learning Centre: ‘Lessons Learned’

Coronavirus prevented many direct contacts in 2021, which was no advantage to Radboud University’s Teaching and Learning Centre (TLC). It was set up in the spring of 2020 as a ‘network organisation and meeting place for educational professionals’. The goal of sharing knowledge and innovating in education was pursued in various ways in 2021, but contrary to what was hoped for at the time of its establishment, most of the work was done online. 

This was the case for the monthly ‘inspiration sessions’ and ‘education cafés’, which always attracted a few dozen visitors. The Education Days in March – four days with 22 workshops – attracted over 400 visitors, 60% of whom were online. The TLC also actively supported lecturers applying for a Comenius grant and awarded vouchers for educational innovation and research. The TLC voucher system – which allows applicants to buy time for plan development – is being expanded to include vouchers in the fields of ICT in education and lecturer well-being.

The TLC responded well to the many questions about distance education, which according to a TLC report this year – Lessons Learned – helped to raise its profile. In the coming years, the centre hopes this will also raise the profile of its other functions on campus, including educational research and lecturer development. In the latter field, the centre broadened its mission in 2021 to include lecturer well-being.

This year, the team of ‘ambassadors’ on campus – an important pillar in the TLC’s network – was expanded to 15. According to the interim report, there is room for improvement in terms of embedding the centre on campus: for example, several faculties and their boards are not yet properly connected, and there is room for improvement in organisational embedding.

‘For the Curious’ course programme launched

Radboud Academy, the umbrella organisation for Lifelong Development at Radboud University, launched a selection of courses called ‘For the Curious’, aimed at a broad range of interested people. In it, experts from Radboud University provide academic perspectives on current social issues in an interactive and accessible way.

Five course series were launched in the autumn, each consisting of four or five meetings in the evening: AI for Life, Our Precious Brain, Pills in Perspective, The Confessions of Augustine and 'God' as a Political Factor. The courses took place in weeks with low numbers of coronavirus infections and were all attended by about 15 participants. The plan for the coming years is to offer ten programmes each year.