MAASTRICHT. The Dutch programme of the bachelor’s of Arts and Social Sciences is to be discontinued. As of September 2017, students will only be able to choose the English variant of Arts and Culture. Although the language used during the course is English, Dutch students can choose to do their exams in Dutch, just like their papers and theses.
The faculty feels that Dutch students benefit from a good knowledge of English, even if they work in their own country. Merging two programmes is therefore not just an austerity policy, emphasise Jessica Mesman, responsible for education at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and programme director Anique Hommels. “We want the study programme to be tailored to today’s society. The Dutch language has not disappeared completely. We are even taking it more seriously, by appointing an expert to supervise our students when they write academic papers in Dutch. We already have an academic advisor who does so for English.”
Newly created planning groups will “review the bachelor’s blocks from the first eighteen months with a fresh mind and where necessary revitalise them. It is important that they match well and that the coherence between the blocks is clear,” says Hommels. The specialisations in the last eighteen months will disappear. They will be replaced by new optional blocks. We are still considering exactly what these will be. “There will be an open call, everyone can submit proposals. The specialisations originate from the existing four-year master’s programme. We feel that the bachelor’s should be a broad programme, the master’s is for specialisations.”
The new plans that, according to Hommels, were created from the bottom up (“many brainstorming sessions and information meetings”) and still need further elaboration, have caused some concern. “I understand,” says Mesman. “People who have been block co-ordinators for years, now have to give up their block. They are wondering what will come in its place. We are looking for rotation, while retaining the accumulated expertise. We are in dire need of that, as the lecturers are real experts. They are given the opportunity to become members of the new planning groups. The last thing we want is that someone feels shut out.” To continue with “during the latest, well attended, information evening, there was wide support among staff. We are very happy about that.”
The proposals still need to be approved by the Programme Committee and the Faculty Council. Preparations are scheduled for the 2017/2018 academic year; the revised first year programme is expected to start in September 2018. The Dutch bachelor’s programme will have been discontinued for a year by then.