On the agenda again in January
MAASTRICHT. The University Council did not approve the quality agreements for the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences in its last meeting before Christmas. The controversial issue was the fact that Psychology would not actually spend all their funds for education on education. All other faculties were given the go-ahead, even if it was a struggle for the Faculty of Law.
It was busy in the Co Greepzaal before Christmas. Not only was the public gallery quite full, deans and directors (as well as some programme directors) from the three faculties (FPN, FSE and FHML) also attended, at the University Council’s request.
Whereas the discussion of quality agreements in the University Council committees (5 December) focussed in particular on the research task of newly appointed assistant professors - can faculties finance them from the student loan system fund or not - most of the attention a week later in the plenary meeting went to the ‘gap at Psychology and Neurosciences’. In other words, FPN does not spend all the money received from the government for education, actually on education.
At the beginning of December, in the committee meetings, the gap amounted to 6.5 million. On 12 December, dean Anita Jansen, who offered her apologies for accidentally sending the “wrong model” to the University Council, presented new calculations. “We spend much more on education,” she showed with the help of some sheets. The difference between income and spending in the new model is still 1.8 million. “This means that the faculty has 900 euro left over per student,” student council member Niels van der Sangen calculated. “How can FPN then say that they need the entire amount from the student loan system to continue their the existing policies (tutorial groups of a maximum of 12 students, extensive mentor system, ed.)? Other faculties have much less, but present more new plans. Where is the 1.8 million going?” A discussion followed about the expensive, but necessary research infrastructure with its laboratories and scanners, the insufficient contribution from the government (as far as research is concerned, FPN behaves much like FHML, but does not receive the higher science funding rate per student, director Carolien Martijn said), but also the link between education and research. Dean Jansen: “The division between education and research cannot be sharply defined. Students make full use of our research facilities, we are the only faculty in the Netherlands where students are given time with the scanner. They also benefit from the presence of many good scientists, with professors such as Rainer Goebel and Harald Merckelbach.” In short, part of the money for research goes into education.
The University Council replied that this should be made visible, as it cannot be seen at the moment. Upon which the decision on FPN's quality agreements was postponed until the University Council meeting of 30 January 2019. The FPN board will then return with new figures and show how the bachelor's programme is set up in practice. There will also be psychology students present to explain (which was unclear) how intensive a tutorless tutorial actually is.
The quality agreements of the Faculty of Law were also under discussion. Student council member Jürgen van Heertum again referred to the independently working tutorial groups at this faculty. “Is that intensive education? I did not get an answer to that question yet.” Rector Rianne Letschert explained that it most certainly is a form of intensive education, for both students and staff, but she failed to convince the council member. This proposal may look good on paper, but what will that mean later on in practice? “There is a tutor available, it says in the quality agreements. What does that mean? I think it is too broad and too vague.” Let the faculty council assess, in the coming year, whether these projects are really to be regarded as intensive education, student council member Van der Sangen suggested. This was decided. This meant that the Law faculty's quality agreements were also given the go-ahead.