Quality Agreements 2019-2024: More budget for education

Quality Agreements 2019-2024: More budget for education

Do you want to know how we will spend the Quality Funding to enhance the quality of our education? And how we will invest in small-scale education and guidance for students? Find the answers in the Quality Agreements 2019-2024, the result of an interactive process of working groups and consultations.

What are the Quality Agreements? The financial resources from the government known as the Student Loan Fund or Quality Funding will flow back to education in order to enhance the quality. The Quality Funding we receive from the Ministry increases over time, beginning at around €3 million and most likely increasing to around €9 million. In the Quality Agreements 2019-2024 we present the measures and extra investments in education, the result of an interactive process of working groups and consultations.

The quality agreements are the result of an interactive process with academic staff, students, the co-participation council, steering board, the Executive Board, and the Supervisory Board. In consultations with students and staff four of the six themes were prioritized. In August four working groups started to develop plans on these four themes. During this process the plans of the working groups were also discussed with staff and students in open consultation meetings in October. The intermediate plans were discussed with representatives of the Student Staff Council. All the plans were discussed by the steering group which also allocated budget to the plans. The plans were combined in the Quality Agreements, and have been established by the Executive Board and approved by the Student Staff Council and Supervisory Board of the university.

The Quality Agreements reflect our long-term ambitions and multi-year investments of WU to enhance the quality of education. We will invest 98% of the budget on four of the six themes the government selected by directing the additional investments towards:

  • Small-scale and intensive education
  • More and better guidance for students
  • Education differentiation
  • Professionalization of teaching staff

On 7 November 2019, a panel of the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) will visit us, to assess the Quality Agreements. The panel will advise the minister, who will take the final decision whether or not to approve the Quality Agreements of WU.

Small scale education (58% of the budget)

Small-scale, intensive education is a strong characteristic of Wageningen University, and - according to our Vision for Education- one of the keys to achieving high-quality education. Small-scale education at our university is tailored to each study programme and even each course. The growing student numbers put the intensive and personal approach of Wageningen University at risk. Most of the Quality Funding for the Quality Agreements will, therefore, be spent on maintaining and strengthening small-scale and intensive education. In the Quality Agreements we have further defined 'small-scale education' to guide the measures we will take to strengthen it.

More and better guidance for students (11% of the budget)

The student population at Wageningen University is growing and the number of students in need of additional support is increasing simultaneously. We will ensure that the support offer grows at the same pace. At the same time, we see that students ask for more or a different form of help. Students today face higher stress levels and need more guidance on the stress-related issues that impact their study. The increased demand for support requires us to expand the support we offer even more through the following measures:

  • More study advice by hiring more study advisors
  • More mental support by hiring (more) student psychologists
  • Create a fund to subsidise student initiatives to support students
  • Launch and run a virtual training centre
  • Training for staff to recognize and deal with student issues
  • Stress prevention campaign, to be launched in 2019

Education differentiation (14%) of the budget

We believe that students perform best and more fully develop themselves when they have the opportunity to follow their own learning path and to benefit from extracurricular activities that match their talents, interests, and abilities. The Quality Funding for education differentiation is narrowed down to strengthening personal and talent development, and career preparation. All students should receive the information, opportunities, support, and time to discover and develop their interest and talents, and to be better prepared for their future career. The opportunities are available, but often reach only the active students. We want to reach all students and therefore more incentives are needed.

We will strengthen skills education, talent development and career preparation in the curriculum. We intend to expand our menu of extracurricular activities in order to reach all students and to emphasise how these activities contribute to personal development and career preparation. We will ensure that coaches are available who are familiar with all curricular and extracurricular options and who can advise students in making choices in their personal development journey. The guidance should prevent an increase of stress among students and should help students deal with the fear of missing out. In 2018, we invested in the Student Challenge which will be continued in 2019-2024.

Professionalisation of teaching staff (17% of the budget)

We will stimulate chair groups to facilitate professionalisation of teaching staff by creating a fund to offer financial compensation for professionalisation of staff. Chair holders will be able to request compensation for the costs of and time spent on courses and training. Part of the fund for professionalisation will be allocated to peer reviews, one of the multiple evaluation instruments we apply to strengthen our quality.

In many cases lecturers know what they want to improve but do not have the time to do it or to participate in the training that is available. We want to unburden teaching staff to give them time for professionalisation, by delegating administrative, organisational, and other tasks related to courses to trained support staff. Budget will be allocated to the Science Groups to hire support staff to unburden teaching staff.

We continue to offer training to PhD candidates on teaching and supervision skills, which we started in 2018 with budget of the Quality funding.

Facilities and free space

The small percentage budget that is left will be spent on implementation of Bring Your Own Device and free space. We will continue the investments in Bring Your Own Device, which we initiated in 2018. As implementation progresses, the budget required will decrease. We will keep some free space in for 2020-2024 in order to be able to respond to new insights, new governmental policies, and unforeseen challenges.