The Executive Board of Wageningen UR has responded positively to the educational plan ‘Towards Flexibility’. If the Joint Representative Advisory Bodies agree, the bachelor’s programmes will follow a semester structure with majors and minors from 2010.
By grouping the minors together in fixed periods, it will be easier to put together a balanced set of subjects for a minor, the rector thinks. He is also enthusiastic about the bachelor’s thesis. ‘We think it’s important that students gain experience in writing a thesis and doing research before starting on a master’s degree.’
A steering group published a report in September, and this was followed up by advice from the Educational Institute (OWI) in November. The steering group wanted to assign the minor (half a year of study) 30 ECTS-points, but the OWI thinks that 24 study points fits better in the current timetabling. The middle of the academic year will become more flexible, so that students from other universities will be able to join in more easily. The programmes will have to timetable four months for free choice subjects, which can take the form of a minor here or elsewhere, or an internship.
Programme director Dr. René Kwakkel says that Animal Sciences wants to create two of these blocks by using distance learning modules. ‘We think it’s important to create as much space as possible for free choice subjects. We’ve already worked a lot of the ideas in ‘Towards Flexibility’ into our programme, so it will be fairly easy for us to change the structure. But for programmes where courses are split up over the second and third year, I think it’s going to be more difficult.’
Kropff: ‘That’s why we have to take time to implement the plan in steps.’ The costs, over one million euros, will have to be found within the OWI budget. The Student Council and the Joint Student Staff Council have not yet pronounced judgement on the plan.