Keuzegids Masters 2018, how did the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience do?
The Keuzegids Masters 2018 has been published, and this year 5 Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (FPN) programmes (or to which FPN contributes) have been reviewed: Master in Psychology, Research Master in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Master in Forensic Psychology, Master Mental Health, and Master in Human Decision Science. Three of these programmes have been rewarded the title of “Top Rated Programme”.
I sat down with Prof. dr. Rob Ruiter, Vice-Dean of Education to discuss the results.
What is you first reaction when a new ranking is published?
It’s always exciting, waiting to see what the results are. A ranking is an important thing, potential students review them and take them into account when choosing an educational programme. You have to always carefully assess the results, the difference between programmes is often very small. With very few points you can rise or fall many places. But it’s always exciting to see.
How did we do this year?
The results are excellent for the Research Master in Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, and the Master in Forensic Psychology, who have reached the #1 spot, just like last year. And have received the title “Top Rated Programme”. But also, the Master in Human Decision Science has received the “Top Rated Programme” stamp. We do this programme together with SBE (School of Business Economics), they are the programme’s secretary, but we provide half of the educational activities. We’ve gotten real top scores: 84, 82, and 88, we’re very happy with that. Especially our teachers and guidance were rated highly.
And the programmes without the title “Top Rated Programme”?
There are some topics in the Master Mental Health (collaboration with the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences) on which we would like to score higher. But we’re working hard to achieve that. Our practical Professor Marleen Rijkeboer is working with Natalja Sarneel, and others, to revise the content of the programme, so that it’ll better meet the present day expectations. A Master Mental Health 2.0, shall we say.
Our 1-year Master in Psychology has dropped a bit in the ranking. We’re now back on the level we had in 2015-2016.
Prof. dr. Rob Ruiter is Vice-Dean of Education and as a board member in charge of education at FPN. Together with the Educational Management Team he works to maintain and improve the quality of education at the faculty. He is also Professor of Applied Social Psychology.
Was 2017 an outlier?
Yes, what caused that we can’t say for sure. That’s part of the relative nature of these rankings: who is filling in the questionnaire, how big is the response rate. If the response rate is lower, you’re always susceptible to fluctuations.
What does this lower ranking mean?
If you look at the ranking, we’re still doing well. A number of programmes above us are very specialised. After that we’re behind Enschede, and we’re doing well when you look at the regular masters in psychology. But it also goes for this programme that we’re working on revisions. The commission “Master Plan” is looking critically at the structure, and content, of the programme.
What are the topics that the commission is reviewing?
One such topic is that the theoretical part of the programme ends at Christmas, after that there is a course “Professional/Academic Skills”, and then a long period of research internships starts. This is very research oriented, something that makes us special, but it’s important to see if there is room for another course that focusses more on employability. This way we can better prepare students for the labour market, because not everyone wants to become a PhD student.
Currently there are 6 specialisations, are these still the right ones, should we add more, should some be eliminated? These are some of the questions we’re asking.
Is this commission a reaction to the recently published rankings?
No, from the moment that the new Board was in place (about 1,5 years ago) we’ve started this process. It was an initiative from the Board, we’re continuously working on improving education. We are constantly looking at the programmes and asking the question: how can we improve this educational programme? These rankings now confirm the commission’s right to exist. It’s an extra incentive, “each disadvantage has its advantage” as the late, great football player Cruijff would say.
We’re happy with the results as a faculty, we’re doing well. And we agree on the topics of improvement that are mentioned, like examination. And are working to implement changes that will improve the quality of our programmes. The students have filled in the “National Student Survey” again this year, the response rate for the masters was good, a little less for the bachelors. The more student that respond, the more reliable that the result will be. So, we’d like to ask the students: keep evaluating!