MAASTRICHT. Good, good and good again. This was the oral judgment of the NVAO committee that visited Maastricht at the end of October to audit the education (InstellingsToetsKwaliteitszorg, ITK), quality agreements and internationalisation at Maastricht University. The report that was officially handed over to the Executive Board last week, is no different.
The UM has a “real culture of quality,” states the international committee of six led by emeritus professor Janke Cohen-Schotanus from Groningen. This culture is based on dialogue and interaction, it is open to feedback, stimulates involvement and mutual understanding. The “enthusiasm of those interviewed” (the panel spoke to about 180 students and staff members) and the “open atmosphere during discussions” are an example of this.
The panel, commissioned by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), which safeguards the quality of education in the Netherlands and Belgium, also concluded that the Maastricht view on education is “clear, coherent and widely supported”. The committee was impressed by the way in which the student was the focal point in the education system. This applies to problem-based learning, the initiation into scientific research, as well as internationalisation.
The EDlab (Maastricht University Institute of Education Innovation) received praise, both for “its objectives and the work that has already been done”. Furthermore, the committee stated that the UM is well rooted in the city, region, province and Euregion, and there was appreciation for the development of the Brightlands Campus.
The Executive Board received compliments too. According to the report, the threesome operates as a “highly professional team” that consists of “three enthusiastic individuals” who are heading in the same direction as well as being on the same track and who are supported by their “critical friends” from the Supervisory Board.
Internationalisation at the UM may be seen in many ways as “best practise”, whether this concerns education, research, international classroom and for example extracurricular activities for students. The extension of the CeQuInt Certificate for Quality in Internationalisation, a European quality certificate, is therefore a fact.
Last but not least, the panel looked at the Quality Agreements; the way in which the funds made available through the abolishing of the basic grant system (the so-called studievoorschotmiddelen), will be spent in the period 2019-2024. It may sound a little monotonous, but in this case too, the panel was positive.
In spite of all the praise, the panel did spot a few potential points for improvement. For example, the UM could further develop the management information system. How does the university know if its objectives have been reached? How does it measure the success of certain actions arising from the Strategic Plan? Furthermore, the university relies mainly on the expertise of its own staff when it comes to the improvement and development of the education system. It would be good, especially to remain innovative, to also look outside the UM.