11 February 2019 • Arie Verhoef
The quality agreements, the current standing
“What would you do with 70 million?” At the THKFST festival in early-November 2018, Metten Knüppe aroused a lot of interest with that question within our university of applied sciences. THUAS can invest that amount, which has been freed up with the abolishment of the basic grant, from 2019 to 2024 in the quality of education. How we are going to do this has been the topic of broad discussions since then. Time for the current standing.
The Speaker’s Corner filled up, just after the lunch break on Tuesday afternoon 5 February. It was a mixed group of students, services and faculty staff members, as well as representatives of the General Council. What connected everyone was the involvement in the spending plan that THUAS wants to send to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science at the end of 2019. Most of those present have joined in roundtable and themed discussions since THKFST about spending the 70 million euros. Or they have made themselves heard through the ‘We Hear You’ campaign. On this 5 February they came to hear from Executive Board member Rajash Rawal about the results from the recent talks and what will happen in the near future. Metten Knüppe assisted Rajash with that.
“We can continue”
It is an enticing idea: a pot of gold for the quality of education. But Rajash put the idea into perspective: a large part of that 70 million was already pre-invested by THUAS. The commitment from the Ministry, however, does imply that we can continue with improving the quality of education until 2024 at least. “The Ministry is not allowing us to do whatever we want with that money,” he said. “At the same time, we must ensure that the spending is in line with the ambitions we have already formulated.”
Rajash showed a video about the process over the past three months. It showed images of the roundtable and themed discussions, interspersed with quotes from students, staff and Executive Board members. Rajash named six themes formulated in the sector agreement. More intensive and smaller-scale education. More and improved student support. Study success. Differentiation in education. Suitable and good educational facilities. And the further professionalisation of lecturers. Most of the ideas from the discussions and talks up until now touch on a number of these themes. They are about small-scale education, improved support for students and more facilities for students. The spending plan will focus on those topics
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There is plenty to do between now and January 2020. Those attending who thought they are not in the game were wrong. Rajash invited everyone to join in with the close-reading sessions on 18 March and 21 March this year. When the input from those sessions has been incorporated, the plan will be sent to the Executive Board. The plan will then be submitted to the General Council and Board of Trustees. THUAS wants to submit the spending plan to the Ministry in autumn 2019.
A number of those attending, made use of the opportunity to ask questions. This round provided two significant statements. Firstly, that the General Council is constructive and involved in the process. And that further collaboration is essential. Rajash: “We cannot have that the Executive Board determines top-down what will be included in the plan. And neither can the faculties get unconditional freedom in that. We have to do it together.” To which, one of those present remarked that this is about money for students. “That means that together we have to listen carefully to the input from the Degree Programme Advisory Committees.”
The meeting ended after an hour. Metten Knüppe: “I am pleased with the turnout and the character of the questions. I will be writing the plan with a positive feeling.”
Metten Knüppe, project leader Quality agreements