Consensus on quality agreements
Maastricht University (UM) has reached a consensus on the agreements to further improve the quality of its education. It is the first university to do so. Following an intensive but also enjoyable collaboration process with the University Council and the faculties, a well-founded, detailed plan has been drawn up for the period 2019–2024. The quality agreements will be presented to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science and financed through the additional funds that have become available following the introduction of the student loan system. In October, the UM quality agreements will be assessed by the NVAO.
What do the agreements mean for students, staff and the university as a whole? UM intends to place even more emphasis on intensive, small-scale education. An extensive programme will be launched to promote student wellbeing and resilience, and the assessment system will be put under the microscope. Students will take part in ‘Global Citizenship Education’, acquiring knowledge and skills that will better prepare them for life in an increasingly global world with corresponding social challenges. Facilities for students will be extended as needed, and more study places provided through experiments with longer opening hours of buildings and libraries during peak periods. Finally, investments in the professional development of lecturers will improve teaching quality.
The quality agreements were made in close collaboration with the University Council. Council member Dr Dirk Tempelaar, associate professor at SBE, was involved in the process: “It was an intensive search for a framework that, on the one hand, has enough body to justifiably call it the UM plan, and on the other hand, gives the faculties as much freedom as possible to make it their own. In all modesty, I’m pleased to say we achieved that.” According to Niels van der Sangen, a medical student and member of the University Council, the plan will benefit students. “For us it’s very important that the faculties and the central administration pay close attention to good student guidance, that funds are allocated to the professionalisation of lecturers and that our education becomes even more intensive and small-scale.”
“The minister wanted staff and students to have a say in the quality agreements, and the Executive Board made a point of giving us that role”, says Luc van Deurse, a student of European Public Health who, like the other students in the University Council, cooperated on the plan. “Considering that we were just given six themes and had to come up with a concrete plan from scratch, I’d say we succeeded.” The plan will be implemented in phases between 2019 and 2024 and divided into subprojects. The UM community will be updated regularly about the progress of these projects. The progress of the quality agreements will be assessed by the NVAO in 2022, and the results definitively assessed in 2024.