Nieuws - 9 september 2010

VHL sites to become schools

Within the foreseeable future Van Hall Larenstein will consist of three site-based ‘schools’. And the services VHL buys from Wageningen UR will be subjected to critical scrutiny.

'The intake of new students has increased by 7.5 percent. That does not apply to all the programmes, but we are on the up.' It is with this cheerful message that director Ellen Marks launches the new year at the university of applied sciences.
Together with the new director of operations and educational quality Rien Komen, who started on 1 September, she is visiting all three VHL sites. It is Velp's turn on Wednesday 8 September at around lunch time. In the staff room people are just tucking into soup or chewing on a bread roll.

Price ticket
Just before the summer, the employees' council gave the green light for the institutional merger between Van Hall in Leeuwarden and Larenstein in Velp and Wageningen. The staff representative body managed to obtain a number of concessions from the executive board. Now Marks promises to subject the costs of services provided by Wageningen UR to scrutiny in the near future. She says, 'We may not always need some of the services. How valid is the price ticket on them?' That should be worked out by Christmas.
Also, it should be made easier for VHL graduates to transfer into programmes at Wageningen University. Marks: 'Within a year there should be good transfer systems in place, so that our students have a head start on students from the other agricultural applied sciences institutions.'

Flat organization
Furthermore, there are plans for three site-based 'schools', which are multidisciplinary and should ensure the coherence across the programmes. VHL will work with these schools for four interim years while working towards subject-based schools: an idea taken from the strategic plan called VHL Ahead. 'Then we are going to adapt the management structure. We want a flat organization that is pro-active and in which the responsibility is taken on the work floor', explains Marks. The plans are not finished, but there will at any rate be three directors for the schools and probably team leaders within the programmes.
The quality of day-to-day educational processes remains an issue. As an example, Marks mentions that 'we are still getting too many complaints from students about how and when exam results are announced.' In order to improve the educational organization, project groups will be set up which interested staff can join. It will not be possible to implement all the plans immediately, Marks stresses. 'I like a fair tempo, as you know, but I am also in favour of phasing things. We have learned a bit about that over the past year. Changes have to be introduced at a tempo the organization can cope with.'