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6. Quality Agreements

In this chapter, we will discuss the compulsory quality agreements for educational improvements, which are partly realised with the help of the study financing resources. A small part of the budget is spent centrally (Section 1), but the vast majority is in the hands of the faculties. Sections 2 to 8 provide an overview per faculty of how the money is being spent, including how the faculties are consulted about that spending.

Quality Agreement about Progress Implementation

Dutch universities have reached agreements with the Minister of Education, Culture and Science on quality standards for the period from 2019–2024. The agreements are connected to the use of the resources from the studievoorschot (a government student loan). Radboud University has created a plan for the allocation of those resources, and the minister approved that plan in October 2019 based on a positive recommendation from the NVAO. The below table outlines the amounts involved. They deviate in particular for 2020 from the figures included in the original plan. The main reason is that the Executive Board has freed up €4.5 million more in additional resources than was anticipated in the original plan.

Amounts x €1 million

Realised in 2019

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

Estimate 2021

Estimate 2022

Estimate 2023

Estimate 2024

Resources

       

- Ministry of Education, Culture and Science contributions *

5.4

6.5

6.3

11.0

13.4

14.1

16.0

- additional own resources

3.8

6.0

6.8

1.0

1.3

1.2

1.0

Total resources

9.2

12.5

13.1

12.0

14.7

15.3

17.0

Expenditure

       

- faculty resource allocation

       

- from prior investment

4.9

4.9

4.9

4.9

4.9

4.9

4.9

- additional

2.3

6.0

6.6

5.5

8.2

8.8

10.5

Subtotal

7.2

10.9

11.5

10.4

13.1

13.7

15.4

Central (from prior investment period)

       

- UB opening hours

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

- educational innovation with ICT

1.4

1.0

1.0

1.0

1.0

1.0

1.0

- web lectures

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

 

2.0

1.6

1.6

1.6

1.6

1.6

1.6

Total expenditure

9.2

12.5

13.1

12.0

14.7

15.3

17.0

Central Assets

Various initiatives have been developed using central assets. Additional study facilities have been made available in the University Library, both by extending its opening hours and by increasing the number of study workplaces. Investments have been made in educational innovation with ICT, such as digital assessment. Finally, a project was started to future-proof web lectures, increasing their flexibility and capacity.

Participational Bodies

The vast majority of the assets within the framework of the quality agreements are spent within the faculties, who also determine how they are spent. This places the decision as close as possible to the primary educational process, although the implementation may vary between faculties. The way in which the involvement is organised is described below per faculty.

With regard to the budget, the faculty participational bodies advise on the use of the quality agreements. All faculty participational bodies have expressed favourable opinions about both the 2020 and 2021 budgets. In addition, the quality agreements are discussed twice a year: during the annual meeting and the budget meeting. The Executive Board, the Faculty Board and the student assessor are present at those meetings. The student assessor is specifically asked about the progress and involvement of the participational bodies in the implementation of the quality agreements. In each meeting, the student assessors indicated that they were satisfied with the involvement of the participational bodies. 

At least three times a year, central support organises a meeting to which the decentralised participational bodies are invited. The aim is to inform the decentralised participational bodies of their rights with regard to the quality agreements and to promote the exchange of approaches and information between faculties. In addition, the meetings ensure that the decentralised participational bodies know where they can go centrally in the organisation with questions about the quality agreements.

Overview of 2020 Quality Funds (based on financial section)

Amounts x €1,000

  
 

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

Faculty of Medical Sciences

2,967

3,026

Faculty of Arts

635

755

Nijmegen School of Management

1,681

1,883

Faculty of Law

1,826

1,892

Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies

306

359

Faculty of Science

2,317

2,496

Faculty of Social Sciences

1,186

1,106

Total

10,918

11,517

Faculty of Medical Sciences

Expenditures per Theme

Amounts x €1,000

  
 

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

More intensive and smaller-scale education

  

Increased and improved guidance of students

2,161

2,215

Study success

  

Educational differentiation

  

Education facilities

501

508

Lecturer qualifications

305

303

Total

2,967

3,026

Student guidance is put into practice through the use of coaches and the further development of the professionalism learning pathway. This led to the appointment of 97 coaches in the 2019–2020 academic year, and another 113 coaches in the following academic year. The use of coaches in the Dentistry Bachelor’s programme will be gradually expanded in 2020–2021 with the availability – and training – of individual coaching for the first and second years of study. In the following year, this will also be available for third-year students. This is in anticipation of the new Bachelor’s programme in Dentistry, which will have a stronger learning pathway for personal and professional development.

Another important priority is the development of education aimed at student welfare and healthy professionals. This will take shape with several appointments and the use of special modes of instruction (pop-up theatre, the Time-Out! performance) as well as teaching with training actors, peer consultation for MMD students and coaching of individual students. Guidance in the post-study phase will be provided by an additional salaried career officer. In addition, a training programme for student advisors was established.

In terms of facilities, the following has been achieved: the continuation of the current range of titles with a campus licence, including a licence for e-books. Agreements have also been made for additional e-learning courses for all years of study, and a plan has been developed for digital educational innovation, which fits in with the future-proof digital profile of the Radboudumc Health Academy. For this purpose, the driving force behind the innovation will be increased by adding more than two FTEs over a three-year period. The pandemic has accelerated the implementation, with 83 lecturers now familiar with the digital learning environment (Brightspace). In 2020, about 35 professionalisation activities were carried out (course menu, observation, office hours), reaching more than 300 employees. In response to the disappointing response to the course menu, senior lecturers will be used to supervise their colleagues.

The envisaged lecturer professionalisation – with a focus on ‘interprofessional learning’ – was delayed by the pandemic and a departing staff member. For the sake of progress, a memorandum is now on the table. It ensures cooperation with the healthcare degree programmes and places more emphasis on learning on the job.

Participational Bodies

A steering committee has been set up to coordinate with the participational bodies. The committee includes lecturer and student members from the UMC council and the FSR (student representation from each study programme), as well as the responsible policy adviser from the Radboudumc Health Academy. Based on experience from 2019, the faculty has made additional investments in managing the implementation of the quality plan (and the associated consultations).

Faculty of Arts

Expenditures per Theme

Amounts x €1,000

  
 

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

More intensive and smaller-scale education

285

300

Increased and improved guidance of students

85

175

Study success

80

100

Educational differentiation

96

100

Education facilities

0

0

Lecturer qualifications

89

80

Total

635

755

The ambition to provide more intensive/smaller-scale education is aimed at improving the staff-student ratio and at a minimum number of hours per course. A staff member in each department has been appointed for this purpose. Assistants have also been appointed to support lecturers and to involve students more intensively in scholarship.

For better student guidance, the improvement of mentoring and student counselling is foreseen, using earlier research results on the subject. In addition, there are efforts to ensure that lecturers have enough hours to guide students, to expand mentorship in the Bachelor’s phase and to offer additional tutorials for pre-Master’s and Master’s students. To promote study success, each Bachelor’s programme will offer the option to start a Bachelor’s thesis in each semester. Linking educational content to social themes should also help in this, as will 13 new profiling minors.

Educational differentiation will receive a boost from a new didactic teaching concept (in think tanks), the introduction of two-year education Master’s programmes (in collaboration with the Radboud Graduate School of Education) and an English-language variant of the History degree programme. In addition, the profiling minors mentioned above will provide more elective space in the third year of the Bachelor’s programmes. There are also plans to increase collaboration beyond the borders of the faculty, with modules with the Faculties of Law and Medical Sciences and with the development of interfaculty Master’s programmes.

Some education spaces will be adapted for the aforementioned think tanks. In addition to a boost to facilities, the think tanks will also stimulate lecturer professionalisation, with lecturers being trained to supervise these think tanks. The training will be further shaped through pilot projects in language acquisition education.

Participational Bodies

Periodic meetings are held to discuss the use of study financing resources with the related Faculty Joint Assembly (FGV) committee. The results of those discussions are shared confidentially with the FGV.

Nijmegen School of Management

Expenditures per Theme

Amounts x €1,000

  
 

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

More intensive and smaller-scale education

1,179

1,183

Increased and improved guidance of students

125

350

Study success

  

Educational differentiation

  

Education facilities

297

200

Lecturer professionalisation

80

150

Total

1,681

1,883

Monitoring student-activated forms of education (e.g. work groups) should contribute to more intensive and small-scale education. For better guidance of students, the work groups in the largest programme (Business Administration) have been reduced in size, and students receive extra support for their thesis. For this purpose, the school invested in lecturers who are qualified to supervise work groups, which also contributes to reducing the workload. Additional Assistant Professors have been appointed in several divisions; in particular, three appointments in Public Administration to contribute to the intensification of education.

The improved student guidance takes further shape within the (redeveloped) Bachelor’s subject ‘academic skills’. That redevelopment included reducing the group size (from 20 to 15 students), increasing the number of meetings (from 1.5 to 2 per week) and intensifying mentoring (from 3 to 4 meetings). The Master’s programme is also being more intensively supervised, thanks to the use of more lecturers and lower student numbers per lecturer for the Master’s thesis.

The strengthening of teaching also takes shape in the facilities, with the development of additional lab facilities. Lecturer professionalisation is being realised through a stricter policy on obtaining teaching qualifications. Both objectives are being achieved with investments in ICT in education, which also are being used to support small-scale, interactive education. Funds have been made available for conversion to digital forms of education, improvements in the curriculum, and support for lecturers (e.g. in Business Administration) by adding more student assistants and an Online Education Support Team that offers personal support for online education. In Economics, two teams have been working on improving online teaching and improving the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in Economics. The extra attention being paid to ICT is also reflected in additional knowledge clips. Due to the recruitment of additional staff, all measures will be in place by 2021.

Participational Bodies

The faculty has a committee on quality agreements with representation from all sections. It met three times in 2020. Both the Faculty Student Council and the Faculty Representative Council provide input on how the funds are spent and consider the justification for that. The agreements are also discussed in the Faculty Joint Assembly.

Faculty of Law

Expenditures per Theme

Amounts x €1,000

  
 

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

More intensive and smaller-scale education

1,154

1,073

Increased and improved guidance of students

217

255

Study success

  

Educational differentiation

30

125

Education facilities

212

139

Lecturer professionalisation

213

300

Total

1,826

1,892

In 2020, the faculty strengthened its small-scale, intensive teaching by appointing additional staff, in theory for six years. In seven sections, all the intended junior lecturers were appointed this year, with an increase in research time (up to 30%) combined with an increase in headcount (3.5 FTE). In line with the faculty’s educational vision, a number of courses were modified in 2020, partly with the help of ICT (and accelerated by the pandemic). One example is digital assessment via Brightspace, which the pandemic made commonplace throughout the faculty. ‘Flipping the classroom’ and take-home exams were also introduced, among other things, along with a digital simulation of the criminal justice process.

To make it easier for staff to use ICT resources, the faculty appointed extra support staff – in addition to student assistants – to help with knowledge clips, the electronic learning environment and digital assessment. In addition, the faculty set up ‘Studio Grotius’, a space where lecturers can make their own recordings for their teaching, again with the support of student assistants.

For extra guidance of students, funds were made available for the appointment of student advisors for both the Bachelor’s and Master’s phases. There was also a substantial investment in student tutorials (weekly assignment sessions under the supervision of senior students) and lecturer mentoring for first-year students, which involves monthly meetings by all teaching staff to discuss well-being and study progress in small groups. Additional resources were also deployed in the International Office, especially for counselling international students who had travelled abroad because of coronavirus, or who had come to the Netherlands from abroad.

In the context of educational differentiation, plans were developed for new teaching methods (e.g. the Law in Action programme that was offered for the second time in 2019–2020). This is part of Law Talents and represents a broadening of the talent programme that is aimed at a diverse intake. Additional (support) staff were appointed for this purpose. In 2020, preparations were also made to host the Spring School in Nijmegen as part of the European Tech Law Clinics.

Every staff member is expected to spend 20 hours a year on professionalisation. Junior lecturers and PhD candidates with assigned teaching duties obtain University Teaching Qualification sub-certificates as part of their appointment. As part of the changes in teaching and assessment due to the pandemic, several online instruction sessions were organised for lecturers in connection with the newly developed (examination) formats. The additional educational efforts necessitated by the pandemic disrupted other training activities, such as the training days focused on innovation. A systematic inventory and analysis of the initiatives taken to date has not yet been performed.

Participational Bodies

The quality agreements are discussed in the Faculty Joint Assembly and with the student assessor in the board. It is also a standard item on the agenda of the Faculty Student Council.

Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies

Expenditures per Theme

Amounts x €1,000

  
 

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

More intensive and smaller-scale education

95

110

Increased and improved guidance of students

17

20

Study success

30

36

Educational differentiation

104

120

Education facilities

35

40

Lecturer professionalisation

25

33

Total

306

359

To promote small-scale and intensive education, the faculty plans to increase the hours for Argumentation and to add hours for thesis and internship supervision in connection with strengthening the coordination of the thesis workshops. In addition, several new modules were developed last year and this year. There are now nine modules, which are also open to other Bachelor’s students as minors. The faculty also strives for the systematic deployment of additional lecturers. A number of intentions around improved student guidance have been expressed in the faculty. These include paying extra attention to students’ mental health problems (preventive measures and staff training) and promoting the educational community (combating exclusion and encouraging studying together).

Study success is being fostered through the use of knowledge clips. Staff gained additional experience with these in 2020, due to the pandemic and with the use of additional contracted support. Hybrid education is also being offered in the best possible way, with an increase in the number of web lectures. In addition, there is more focus on writing papers (phased feedback), helped by the start of two six-year PhD programmes that include additional teaching time in this area.

The faculty aims for more differentiation with new forms of teaching, for which it seeks greater connection with the Radboud Teaching and Learning Centre, which opened in 2020 and which can support lecturers in this regard. In September, the first students were also welcomed to the new two-year education Master’s programmes in Philosophy and Religious Studies.

In support of the facilities, the faculty will remain connected to the new ICT support with a view to structural ICT deployment for educational support. Contrary to earlier ideas, the faculty decided not to establish a faculty-based (bilingual) writing centre; the idea is now to pay more systematic attention to writing skills and language proficiency in the curricula.

The professionalisation of staff members is reflected in greater appreciation of teaching-oriented lecturers. The faculty is setting up an educational archive where lecturers can share their best practices with each other. The workload of young lecturers is also being reduced by, among other things, training student assistants. Continuous training about new educational developments and methods is being provided.

The faculty is on track with the quality agreements, although the additional funds that the faculty wanted to add turned out to be lower than planned due to the pandemic.

Participational Bodies

The quality agreements are discussed twice a year in both the Faculty Student Council and the Faculty Representative Council.

Faculty of Science

Expenditures per Theme

Amounts x €1,000

  
 

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

More intensive and smaller-scale education

403

561

Increased and improved guidance of students

490

590

Study success

463

440

Educational differentiation

307

370

Education facilities

347

165

Lecturer professionalisation

307

370

Total

2,317

2,496

The commitment to more intensive and small-scale education has been realised over several years with various new modes of instruction, such as the ‘new devices lab’ in Computing Science. Furthermore, additional investments were made in mathematics education and the coordination of lab courses was strengthened. New assistant lecturers were recruited, albeit somewhat fewer than planned, sometimes because the need in the departments was less and sometimes because there were no suitable candidates. The pandemic delayed the commitment to set up projects aimed at educational innovation and/or quality improvement after a call within the faculty. 

The faculty has begun improving student guidance with an enhanced portfolio and accompanying coaching/reflection at the academic level. Furthermore, efforts are being made to increase the visibility of the Task Force on Student Well-Being, with a focus on better understanding student needs and promoting student well-being.

Timetabling, curriculum renewal and the elimination of redundant Master’s specialisations further contributed to study success in 2020. The already successful integration of foreign students was further ensured by the completion of the establishment of the Admissions Office.

Differentiation took shape with an increase in the number of general skills courses, in addition to the introduction of campus-wide interdisciplinary minors. Efforts were also made to expand facilities, with more workplaces for students, additional opening hours for the library, an increase in lab courses and more rooms available for active learning (a learning environment that is highly valued by students). Additional graphics tablets, bags and loaner laptops were available to students. Professionalisation took shape in the continuation of a faculty-wide educational colloquium and in workshops for lecturers.

Participational Bodies

Participational bodies are involved through an Advisory Committee on Quality Agreements – with representation from all sections – which makes proposals for objectives and expenditures of the quality funding. In any event, an amount is allocated for an annual call for proposals (for educational innovation and/or quality improvement projects).

Faculty of Social Sciences

Expenditures per Theme

Amounts x €1,000

  
 

Realised in 2020

Budgeted for 2020

More intensive and smaller-scale education

612

539

Increased and improved guidance of students

180

169

Study success

  

Educational differentiation

  

Education facilities

  

Lecturer professionalisation

394

398

Total

1,186

1,106

With the expansion in staff, more small-scale and interactive education is occurring. For instance, 5,000 extra hours of student assistance are provided (also for support of the Student Information Point) and 16 FTE Assistant Professors have been appointed, the latter also with the aim of giving better feedback on theses. As of this academic year, student guidance has taken shape with the use of senior students in supporting more junior classmates. With additional staff, the student counsellors’ office will play a bridging role within student guidance. This will also provide for better referral to this guidance.

With the allocation of specific staff for research, the professionalisation will take shape for lecturers who have a full teaching appointment. Courses are also being offered to improve English-language teaching skills and didactics. Other courses should provide lecturers with better tools for dealing with diversity in teaching methods, strengthening mutual cooperation between students (including peer-to-peer feedback) and reinforcing students’ self-direction. The faculty is also making space for innovative peer consultation between lecturers, and for an expansion of web lectures and knowledge clips.

Participational Bodies

For the quality agreements, surveys are being conducted to gather input. Work groups that include students are examining issues such as student well-being and student guidance, with involvement from the Faculty Representative Council. The effects of the measures are being measured in the interim and discussed in the Faculty Joint Assembly.