13 September 2019 • HNTB
New internship and graduation process system ready for pilot
In recent months we have worked hard on the design stage of the project Internship and Graduation Process Optimisation of Back on Track. Erik van der Laan (faculty of Public Management, Law & Safety, internship and relationship management) and Poko Janssen (IT & Design graduation coordinator) participated in three sprint sessions. “We are making great strides with many small steps.”
What was the goal of the project Internship and Graduation Process Optimisation?
Van der Laan: “We reviewed the internship and graduation process with representatives from all faculties. With Back on Track there is an opportunity to improve the financial organisation of these processes. This will lead to greater organisational efficiency, more uniformity and subsequently more quality. A key point in this is to transfer some of the tasks from the lecturers to the support department or the students themselves. This will increase quality and free up more time for lecturers to guide the students. In addition to reducing the administrative load, another clear end goal is to improve the quality of education.
Why is the old process being overhauled?
Janssen: “As a university of applied sciences we keep track of all the digital files of our students. Over the years things have spun out of control. Every faculty has its own way of storing internship plans, graduation projects, project proposals, evaluations, reports and theses in the registration programme. The On Stage programme encountered, understandably, a lot of resistance. We had to overcome this by simplifying the system and making it more accessible with a smarter organisation.”
Was this situation the result of the university’s enormous diversity?
Van der Laan: “The same diversity is also reflected in the university of applied sciences’ administration. For example in the Laws degree programme, the legal field has a habit of storing hard copies of everything. The department is packed with shelves full of binders. Digitalisation will be a huge improvement.”
Van der Laan: “The existing registration system was even harder to manage because seven faculties with around fifty different degree programmes often used their own terminology. This will all be standardised within Back on Track. It will simplify maintenance and back office employees can more easily cover for an absent colleague.”
Will everything be better with Back on Track?
Janssen: “The idea is to make the administration of the internship and graduation process much leaner.
Graduation involves a lot of administration for students and lecturers. The administrative requirements are not always clear to students and lecturers feel that their valuable time is better spent in guiding students than on administrative tasks. In this new format we want to transfer more tasks to the students, such as uploading reports of company visits or feedback meetings. That will save a lot of time per student. If you multiply that across the entire university of applied sciences, it results in significant time savings. Time the lecturer can spend on guiding students.”
How will you bridge the differences between the faculties?
Van der Laan: “In January we kicked off with the design team. All of the faculties are represented here. In the three sprint sessions we first reviewed what we all have in common. Step by step we mapped out our common ground. Then we identified the differences and reviewed where we have room for improvements. We looked for the biggest common denominator. After each sprint we held a presentation, during which other faculty representatives had the opportunity to provide feedback. One of our goals is to gain support. By allowing people to contribute throughout the process, we hope to get everyone on board.”
Will you achieve that?
Janssen: “I think once people realise that the new system is simpler and more practical, they will embrace it. Take the time savings for example. Now lecturers have to upload all kinds of forms. It seems minor but the impact is huge. This change will not only save the lecturer time, but it will also increase efficiency. By making the student responsible for this step, we think it will get done a lot faster than when a lecturer has to do this for many students.
Van der Laan: “This may only save 30 minutes here or 15 minutes there. But if you take the overall scale of this university of applied sciences, it will have a major impact.”
What is the current status?
Van der Laan: “Two faculties will start a pilot in the next six months: IT & Design and M&O.
They will start out with the new system and processes. By the summer of 2020 the entire university of applied sciences will implement the system.