Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences hadn't expected 'yellow cards'
MAASTRICHT. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has lately become a collector of ‘yellow cards’. To their own surprise. “No, of course we hadn’t expected this,” education director Jo Wachelder reacted. “There was a lot of praise from the quality auditors when they visited us; we were told on a number of occasions that our programmes were an example, there were no comments on our exams and blocks, some of our theses were deemed fantastic.”
The yellow cards are a nuisance - “we would prefer to hear that we are excellent” – but there is no point denying or complaining about them, Wachelder feels. “We are professional enough to accept the verdict and we are using the criticism to improve our programmes.”
Wachelder thinks that the first six fails (for the bachelor’s programmes of European Studies and Arts and Culture and the master’s programmes of European Studies, European Public Affairs, Media studies: Media Culture Arts and Culture) that were given in 2013 by Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), are of a different class than the fail for the research master’s of European Studies that was announced last week. In the case of the first six, the committee felt that “too many students produced theses that were substandard. “Our assessment procedures were not perfect, they could be improved. The adaptation was a complicated process that involved a lot of people and six programmes. Besides, after you have been given a yellow card, you want to do extra well, and so as a faculty you go the extra mile.”
The last yellow card for the research master’s of European Studies has everything to do with the setup of the curriculum. The committee found it lacking in “coherence and focus” and feels that the relation between content and methodological subjects is insufficient. “Of course you also take this to heart, but in a different way. The committee had no comments on the students’ theses. So we have students who deliver what they should deliver. They are, moreover, very enthusiastic about their study, they all end up in good places, they receive wonderful PhD places.” Still, the faculty does take the remarks very serious, Wachelder emphasises. “We have processed everything in the recovery plan that was approved without comment. We can repair this with a smaller operation. We have already revised the curriculum, which will be put into effect next academic year. Students will be given less freedom of choice and will specialise sooner without the programme losing its interdisciplinary character. This was always a study that you could be proud of but we now want to make it even better. I have every confidence that we will succeed and that we will see this reflected in the rankings.”