Organisation - May 12, 2011

VHL not afraid of a tarnished image

There is no alternative graduation route for students at VHL. 'Things had got out of control at Inholland.'

It was not just the four degree programmes at Inholland university of applied science where students were getting an unjustified degree, there are also problems with eleven other university of applied science degree programmes. That was the conclusion at the end of April when the Education Inspectorate presented its report on alternative graduation routes and safeguards for graduation standards.
Van Hall Larenstein (VHL) had to fill in a written questionnaire, just like the other universities of applied science. However, the Inspectorate did not see any reason for further investigations. That is because VHL does not have any organized alternative graduation routes, explains Rien Komen, Director of Teaching Quality and Operations.
Komen thinks the problems at some education institutions are due to the increase in scale, the desire to innovate and the funding system. He explains that too great a distance between the governing board and the rank and file, and too much focus on recruiting students and creating new degree programmes can lead to quality control taking a back seat. The funding system can also mean that 'there is a huge temptation to tackle students who are taking a long time to graduate and fast-track them towards the exit'.
Komen is not afraid of a tarnished image for universities of applied science. 'You will always have some degree programmes that are better than others, but the Inspectorate monitors everything closely and the Inholland board admits it was at fault. People are not trying to hush things up and that helps to clear the air.'

Positive experiences
Henno van Horssen, a VHL student and former chair of the National Students Association (ISO), had a seat in the Leers commission that investigated the abuses at Inholland last summer. 'I found the outcome rather shocking, but people did not act the way they did with bad intentions. A lot went wrong because there was no proper management. Things had got out of control.'
The negative perception of teaching at universities of applied science is unjustified, says Van Horssen. 'This might be really appalling but the vast majority of degree programmes are very good.' Van Horssen himself is in the final phase of the Land and Water Management degree programme at Velp. He is 'most definitely not' getting his degree handed to him on a plate, he says. 'I don't see such abuses at VHL, on the contrary - VHL came through the Inspectorate's evaluation without any problems and my own experiences are very positive, as you should expect from a university of applied science.'

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