Wetenschap - 20 juni 1996

International Education has to hitch-hike

International Education has to hitch-hike

The regular study programmes have to change and restructure their education. Trimesters will be replaced by five periods and each course has to be condensed to fit into one period. This new timetabling applies to the MSc programmes as well. Since a lot of courses are integrated, the more profound reprogramming of the regular courses affects their international counterparts.

We are supposed to hitch-hike along with the changes that are taking place in regular education as much as possible," says Martha Bloemberg, MAKS programme director, a little cynically. The plan to restructure courses into periods of six weeks has been taken up. The new timetables will come into effect in September 1997. By the same date regular programmes will also have to introduce an interdisciplinary module: one thematic course integrating applied and fundamental science in a combination of practical periods, lectures and group work. This module will be optional for the MSc programmes.

The reprogramming of the regular education causes timetabling problems for the MSc programmes, especially where they are integrated with a regular programme. Under the new system the number of courses offered per period decreases. The time span within which MSc students can follow courses is effectively limited to the first six months of their programmes. For the GIS and Urban Environmental Management programmes this period is even shorter since part of the curriculum is offered by other institutes elsewhere in the Netherlands. Furthermore, some programmes do not have equivalent regular programmes at WAU and they will have to depend on the timetable restructuring for more than one regular programme.

Henk Udo, programme director of Animal Science, illustrates: The course Case studies tropical animal production is compulsory for most MSc students. About half of the participants of the course are MSc students, the other half are regular students. The course will be integrated with the thematic course for the regular students and will be scheduled for the time when MSc students are beginning their thesis research."

Udo stresses that timetables have been drawn up after careful discussion between the MSc and regular programmes. It is a process of give and take. If I look at the new set-up of the programme, however, it would make more sense for international students to start in January instead of September. Otherwise we will have to go back to offering separate courses for regular and MSc students. This will inevitably increase costs, and that is surely not the intention of the restructuring."