Director Martijn: “University Council was a capricious partner”
MAASTRICHT. The University Council endorsed the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences' quality agreements last week. All faculties have now been given the go-ahead.
Just before Christmas, Psychology's quality agreements - the allocation of the funds made available through the abolishing of the basic grant system - were rejected by the University Council. The controversial issue was the fact that the faculty was not actually spending all the money received from the government on education. Explanations by the Faculty Board, sitting in on the meeting, about the costly but necessary research infrastructure with its laboratories and scanners, the lack of government funding (as far as research is concerned, FPN behaves much like FHML, but does not receive the higher science funding rate per student) and the link between research and education, did not convince the University Council.
But after discussions between a University Council delegation and the faculty mid-January, and a presentation by faculty director Carolien Martijn during the latest council meeting, the matter was resolved. Martijn stated that staff spend on average 59 per cent of their time on education; the faculty continues to opt for small tutorial groups despite the strong growth in numbers; the scores on the rankings are good; that FPN has already achieved the three themes designated by the University Council - small-scale intensive education, supervision of students, and ‘professionalisation’ of lecturers; three of the total of six themes assigned on a national level - and wants to maintain this level with money from the student loan system. Moreover, she explained, FPN has also dealt with other matters within the framework of the quality agreements, such as mentoring of master’s students and the appointment of an assessment co-ordinator.
“How does the faculty look back on the process?” student council member Niels van der Sangen wanted to know. “Can I be completely honest,” Martijn asked. “The University Council was a capricious partner for us. As a board, we had been working on the details of the quality agreements for some time.” The rejection before Christmas was a “shock”, dean Anita Jansen added. “We thought we were doing a good job.” Martijn: “You now strictly adhered to themes 1, 2 and 6. I hope that in the future you will give us more leeway and look at the content more so than how euros are spent.”
After this, the quality agreements were approved amidst applause.