Creating a united The Hague University of Applied Sciences requires focus
‘We are one but we’re not the same.’ This line from U2 also applies to The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Over the next few years – between now and 2020 – our students should both feel and experience that THUAS is a united university of applied sciences, an educational institute that in all its diversity has a single profile.
The revision of the Institution Plan was intended to implement the fine-tuned profile of our school. Global citizenship, internationalisation and a networking university of applied sciences (WIN) determine the agenda during my meetings with deans and managers, with the shared goal of increasing the quality of our education and research. Yet, when I talk to lecturers, I am often asked, what is the direction in which THUAS is heading? They are familiar with the WIN themes, but ‘how about a little more clarity?’ they ask.
In the background
As administrators, we have given the faculties the opportunity to translate the themes and integrate them into the education in their own way. I see and hear that the first steps have been taken and that this has the attention of the lecturers. Take global citizenship and general education for example. Lecturers understand the importance of learning 21st century skills and feel that their degree programme also contributes (and should contribute) to the personal development of our students. They also recognise that the curricula can be better tailored to the profession and that, for example, morality and ethics easily get overlooked. Herein lies a challenge in other words. As does in determining whether we are succeeding in training students to become global citizens.
Students are conveying the same message. In a recent meeting with students from the General Council, I was asked to devote more attention to coaching as part of global citizenship. I believe this is an appropriate approach to this theme that still raises many questions.
More frameworks, more demands
Although WIN is a topic of discussion, I also hear from lecturers that too little is being done with WIN in many of the degree programmes. Whereas one lecturer has a very strong idea about what, for example, global citizenship entails, another talks more about greater clarity and frameworks. As one lecturer put it, ’The WIN themes are thrown at the faculties – do as you see fit – but little is demanded of us. I would like to see a more detailed framework and more support in translating these themes into our teaching. What should we do? Not to mention, what should we not do?”
I think that, based on these meetings, the WIN themes are still too noncommittal. It is time to fine-tune them in order to achieve a better balance between central frameworks and support from the degree programmes. As the Chairman of the Executive Board, I would like to give every faculty and degree programme the responsibility and opportunity to give shape to these from within the THUAS profile. And in my meetings with deans and managers, I will express the desire for more coordination and guidance from above.
A joint profile like the one at The Hague University of Applied Sciences is not created overnight and is anything but noncommittal. As we progress towards ‘one but not the same’ university of applied sciences, we need to stay sharp about whether and how the joint vision is expressed throughout the school.
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