9 September 2019 • HNTB
The first outlines of Back on Track are now visible
The programme Back on Track has been running for more than two years now. In addition to his position as faculty director, Clemens Berendsen is also the Back on Track programme manager. He sketches the outlines and looks ahead. “The university of applied sciences will be amazing.”
Back on Track dates back to the spring of 2017, when the financial future of the university of applied sciences didn’t look so rosy. Is Back on Track still focused on balancing the books?
“Since last spring the focus of Back on Track has shifted from a healthy financial situation to improving the quality. So striving for more efficiency and effectiveness, and no longer cutting costs because of financial constraints. A major improvement within Back on Track was simplifying the programme structure, which at some point consisted of forty to fifty projects! The project structure was adjusted and has now been reduced to four projects: Education scheduling, internship and graduation process, optimisation of examination process, period evaluations and examination process optimisation.
The overall goal has been to uniformise processes and procedures, improve organisation and provide better support with systems.”
What is the benefit of this?
“More uniformity automatically means more manageability. Less fragmentation leads to quality improvements. We can reinvest this efficiency gain in better education, such as more staffing for teaching and support.
Can we expect some short-term results?
More peace and stability in the timetable. The quality of the timetable has been an issue for years, both for students and lecturers. With this project we hope to implement a major improvement.
According to a new system, scheduling will now follow the curriculum. First we look at the structure of the curriculum and the required (scarce) resources. Then we look at the required lecturers so we can create the timetable. That means that the timetable no longer changes every week. Team leaders, programme managers and support staff spend less time communicating and implementing changes. This frees up time that can be invested in contacts with students, lecturers and the professional field.
And what’s next?
“The period evaluations. Currently, The Hague University of Applied Sciences uses around twenty to twenty-five different apps for conducting evaluations. We will now create one standard questionnaire and one application for all evaluations. The great benefit of this standardisation will be that we can benchmark different degree programmes. The questionnaire aligns nicely with the National Student Survey (NSE). Thanks to the standardisation we can also automate better. We still do a lot of work manually and that is a waste of valuable time.”
Uniformity leads to greater efficiency. Is that the highest goal of Back on Track?
“The big underlying goal of Back on Track is to promote a culture change. One of the characteristics of THUAS is that there is a lot of diversity. If we can reduce that to manageable proportions, we will all profit. Less diversity also means another commitment. We make agreements together and help each other to keep these. To ensure that Back on Track is future-proof, we are implementing a parallel process ownership. This will enable us to sustainably build a better functioning university of applied sciences.”
So the future is rosy?
“I’m convinced that Back on Track will bring very positive results. It will help the university at every possible level. Of course every implementation phase hurts. It demands a lot from the organisation. But in the long run it will lead to a fundamental improvement. “The university of applied sciences will be amazing.”
Clemens Berendsen, programme manager Back on Track