Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes
MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University will soon fulfil practically all performance agreements made with the education minister. This was confirmed by Vice-President of the Executive Board, Nick Bos, in a University Council committee meeting last Wednesday.
The minister for Education, Culture and Science made agreements with the universities and schools of higher education: favourable results would yield extra money. For the UM, the amount involved is five million euro. The accounts will be drawn up on 31 December of this year. The – obviously still tentative – figures that have been presented to the University Council suggest a favourable outcome. For example, at least 80 per cent of the students who get through their first year, complete their bachelor’s within four years. With that result, by the way, the UM scores higher than any other university; at the universities of technology, percentages do not get much higher than 30 per cent, said Bos. Student council member Michael Dijkstra, however, queries the agreement about the bachelor’s results: “It puts too much pressure on students and on the quality of education,” he argued. Bos answered that it is largely due to the problem-based learning system that students get through their studies quickly: “We have had these good results for a long time already.”
Other agreements (including the number of lecturers with a basic qualification in education, the number of contact hours, the growth in number of support staff) are also on track for the UM, said Bos. Only when it comes to dropout rates (students leaving the UM), the signs are slightly less favourable: dropout rates per batch of students may have come down compared to 2010, but it is still slightly above the desired 15 per cent.
“Whether the minister will attach consequences to this if we eventually fail to meet the requirements, I don’t know,” said Bos.
As it is, the performance agreement system is under fire within higher education. There is criticism about the degree of bureaucracy involved, said President Martin Paul earlier this Wednesday to another University Council committee. The fact that only quantitative criteria are applied, also gets little approval. Paul: “The UM would like to do things differently, with more emphasis on quality, but then you should be able to make agreements within your own university, with the representative advisory body for example. There are too many differences between the institutes for a uniform system.”