MAASTRICHT. The agreement made by students in the University Council and the Executive Board last year was for more intensive contact hours for all first- and second-year students. The Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences now thinks that they can spend the money in a better way.
The agreement is part of the quality agreements – which state how the money that became available from the abolishment of the basic grant system, must be used to improve education. One of these things is that first- and second-year students must have at least seven intensive contact hours a week. These can, for example, be in the form of practicals or tutor meetings. A lecture does not count. Although the psychology students amply reach that number in some periods, in others they do not. On average, they do reach the seven hours, but such calculations are not permitted.
The faculty did initially want to raise the number of hours in accordance with the agreement, but the students were not happy with this. They already find the study burden quite high and rather like that fact that the number of intensive hours is less in some blocks. The faculty council wondered whether the proposed compromise – question-and-answer sessions in the week prior to the exams – contributed to the improvement of the quality of education.
That is why the board suggests spending the money on the improvement of testing. That is also part of the quality agreements, but in a different category. This policy change, however, is impossible without the approval of the University Council. The faculty council has already given the go-ahead.
Testing has been a weak point for the faculty for years. All study programmes score low on it on the National Student Survey, while the students are otherwise satisfied. Measures have already been taken, but with extra money from the intensive contact hours, a further 150 work hours would become available. These could, for example, be used to make testing more diverse by including more open questions in the exams.
The question now is whether the University Council will agree with this plan. Last year, the Council did not give its approval for FPN’s quality agreement plans without resistance. It was wondered whether Psychology was actually spending all its money for education on education. After an explanation by the dean and the director, the University Council gave the go-ahead.