Blog and opinion
11 April 2018 • by Mathieu Hemelaar
Academic success is the success that students achieve in their degree programme. Measurements have shown that the average number of students who obtain their foundation programme certificate in one year and their degree certificate in four years is falling year on year. That is why a meeting was convened under the initiative of the undersigned and Leonard Geluk about academic success in a bid to turn the tide. What did we learn?
If we measure something, does it mean we know it?
The Hague University of Applied Sciences has gathered a large quantity of information about success rates. Lecturers are able to find this data with a little detective work, but it cannot be accessed by student members of the degree programme advisory committees and the faculty councils. That is because it can only be found on the staff portal. So, a lot of measurement does not yet mean a lot of knowledge for the staff and student councils. It would be great if all of this information were anonymised and offered unsolicited to the degree programme advisory committees.
Study success dashboard
Each member of the degree programme advisory committee, namely student and lecturer members, could be given a dashboard on the portal. You could press a button and see this year’s drop-out percentage for your degree programme’s foundation programme alongside comparisons with previous years and other degree programmes. Or you could see the percentage of study points achieved by each class, so that as a degree programme advisory committee you could specifically evaluate how it is possible that 80% of students in class 1B have so far obtained all of the study points while only 30% have done so in class 1F. This type of information would offer the degree programme advisory committee the possibility to further investigate the quality of teaching and success rates for the subjects and lecturers concerned. The task of a degree programme advisory committee is to monitor and increase quality. You can only do this properly if you have all of the information to hand.
We enjoy learning from each others’ successes. The invitations for this study meeting were sent out to members of the staff and student councils (degree programme advisory committees, faculty councils, HR) and the decision-making bodies (programme managers, deans of faculty, experts from the education service, and the executive board). However, the absence of members of the management was starkly evident. While around forty student and lecturer members from the staff and student councils and interested employees from the support attended, only two programme managers and one dean of faculty found the time to participate. The Executive board was most noted by their absence in the session. That is a shame, as if there is one difficult topic where the staff and student councils and the decision-making bodies are precisely able to make a difference together, it is academic success. Incidentally, the degree programme advisory committees were well represented.
Clear career profile
Fortunately, the programme manager of the Faculty Management degree programme did attend. This degree programme traditionally has an excellent success rate which is something we can learn from. For years it was thought that this was because FM is an academy with only one degree programme. It is a small-scale organisation that is close to students. However, it now emerges that this degree programme is unique in the following way. It has a very clear career profile and a high intake from related vocational programmes. This leads us to consider whether broad bachelor’s degree programmes are desirable. A broad bachelor’s degree programme has a more general and less specific career profile.
Academic success is the student’s own success. The student is and also remains the ‘owner’ of his or her own academic success. Support should be focused on this by facilitating effective self-study by students. There is a great deal of support, though so far it has not led to better academic success.
A contribution to better education?
Every year, the Month of May is election month. There are many vacancies in sub-councils, Degree Programme Advisory Committees and HR. However, make sure you keep track of the dates: the nomination period opens on 12 April, so don’t miss your chance!
Mathieu Heemelaar is chairman of the General Council and a Social Educational Care lecturer. He keeps a blog on the importance of counterforce.