22 February 2019 • HNTB, Fay Huigen
2019 Networking Dinner: quality of education and progress
On Thursday 31 January, we held our networking dinner. There were over 200 engaged guests, 5 interesting speakers and 20 inspiring themed tables. The guests discussed the opportunities and challenges for our University of Applied Sciences. It was a useful evening that deserves to be repeated.
The auditorium was packed with a mixture of network partners, lecturers, researchers and other people involved with THUAS. They talked enthusiastically as they waited for the first three speakers: Leonard Geluk (President of the Executive Board), Marja van Bijsterveldt (Mayor of Delft and member of the South Holland Economic Board), and Rajash Rawal (member of the Executive Board).
Making education better
Leonard Geluk got the event off to a start. He opened with the words “tonight is a special evening for a variety of reasons”. “Among other things, because four former presidents of our Executive Board are here with us today. Earlier today, we looked back at events of the last 31 years. We talked about our incredible history of mergers, accommodation changes and enormous growth. We have managed to become the most diverse university of Applied Sciences in the region. This is something we should be proud of.” Geluk then outlined the purpose of the evening. “Tonight, we will be talking about THUAS’ trajectory. What are we doing? Where are we going? And above all, how can we work together to improve the education?”
After Geluk had spoken, Marja van Bijsterveldt took to the stage. “I’d like to talk to you about human capital. It’s incredibly important for maintaining the economy and prosperity of this province.” She said that the Economic Board has been concerned for a long time about the vulnerability of the South Holland employment market. “How do we ensure that the labour force remains employable? That is why life-long learning is essential. This also requires action from educational institutions and companies: the education sector must respond rapidly to demand, and companies must take greater responsibility.” Van Bijsterveldt then went on to make an appeal to everyone in the room: “Think with us and join us! I’m convinced that we can achieve something together. After all, 1 plus 1 is really more than 2.”
Becoming global citizens
During the intervals between speakers there was time for a film about the pride of THUAS: our students. Then Rajash Rawal took to the stage. He inspired and roused everyone present with his story about global citizenship. “We are facing a challenge. There is a need around the world for global citizens and it is up to us to educate them. This involves more than just acquiring knowledge at school. Learning takes place everywhere.” Rawal said that now is the time to join forces. “That is why we need you. To help us and our students to develop. Students are a reflection of the staff that teach them. We have to give them the room to grow. All of the beauty coming out of this will give you goosebumps.”
All the ins and outs
After the inspiring words from our speakers, everyone went to the restaurant. Here they found 20 laid-out thematic tables at which students and supervisors were explaining their work. They talked about things such as the Smart Teddy Bear and the M.C. Escher Challenge.
Table 12 was dedicated to discussions about the circular economy. Jeady Pigmans, from Student Facility Management: “When you ask someone the same thing you asked them yesterday, they will give you the same answer. In the circular economy, we have to start asking each other different questions!” Table 9 focused on studying in the future. COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning). COIL is an online tool which allows students to gain skills at home that they would normally only obtain during an international placement. “I didn’t realise that students could learn such a lot from online collaboration with fellow students abroad”, said the host of the table, Jos Beelen.
Guests listened attentively and asked the table hosts for all the ins and outs. This is a networking dinner as it is truly intended to be, said Jos van Beuningen, founder of The Flower Family: “A lovely atmosphere, great food and interesting contacts”.
Alongside the themed tables, there were also two strategic quality tables. On these tables, administrators and other senior officials from the region discussed our four strategic key objectives, namely increasing the quality of our education, continued development of our international profile, promoting global citizenship and creating a networking university of Applied Sciences. Plans were put in place for the future, but practical issues were also addressed. That is just as important, said Ewald van Vliet, chairman of the Executive Board of Lucas Onderwijs: “There are several practical issues that we have to deal with now. For instance, we need more lecturers, and THUAS is leading the way here. Since the number of teacher training students has fallen over recent years, there is work to be done.”
New collaborations were also explored at the table. Juliette Bouw, alderwoman for Education at the Municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg: “I think it’s great to look at the areas in which students can support us. I can see many opportunities for this.” What do we need for collaboration? “Contact, specific requests from the municipality and THUAS, and therefore guidance for students from THUAS. Then it becomes a win-win situation”, said Bouw.
Furthermore, the on-going learning track and life-long learning were also considered in detail. These are weighty matters, but they were accompanied by smiling faces and sound arrangements.
Throwing our weight behind it
The evening was rounded off by Willem Wiegersma, President of the Executive Board of Basalt and by Adri Bom, a member of the South Holland Provincial Executive. “It’s amazing to see that we are throwing our weight behind this together, and we are growing closer. Collaboration provides so much”, said Bom. The networking dinner was a success for all concerned. It was crammed with old and new contacts, inspiration and the motivation to work together on progress. Until the next edition.