News - September 22, 2016

University has improved quality of education

Rob Ramaker

Wageningen University has achieved all the improvement targets set in 2012 in consultation with the ministry of Economic Affairs, says Gerlinde van Vilsteren, who works at Education, Research & Innovation. The ministry has not yet published its formal evaluation, which is based on the advice of the Review Committee for Higher Education.

Photo: Niels van Mossevelde

In 2012, Wageningen University & Research promised – along with other Dutch universities – to improve on seven points, including the pass rate, the dropout rate and student evaluation scores. These agreements were intended to help higher education institutes create a clearer profile and improve the quality of the education they provide. Seven percent of the total funding would depend on their score on these points.

The results have now been lined up by the university. The two most ambitious goals seem to have been reached. The number of Wageningen students graduating with a BSc within four years has risen from 62 to 81 percent. The percentage of teachers with a ‘Basic teaching qualification’ has increased from 24 to 48 percent. And on the other points too, the university either improved or held its own.

Despite the good results, the board is not very keen on these target agreements. Rector magnificus Arthur Mol said last January in Resource that he did not see the value of making new agreements. In practice most of the universities achieve their objectives and funding is hardly redistributed at all, says Mol. Mol would rather spend the money now spent on the ‘bureaucratic machinery’ for the target agreements on educational improvements. Van Vilsteren says this has been discussed with the review committee.

The approach of improving educational quality through target agreements is being evaluated by a committee led by Wim van der Donk, King’s commissioner for North Brabant. Their report is due to come out in March 2017.