The structure of education has a large impact on its quality. Students should always be the center of learning. The research agenda of teachers should not determine the content of a degree program, but the individual needs and interest of students should. Students need to know how they can influence and decide upon what they will actually learn in their degree programs. Small-scaled and interactive education has been one of our main focus points for years.
Within their degree program, students should be challenged to be critical and to develop themselves in the best way possible. Detailed feedback of teachers and peers is thereby important. Additionally, the UG needs to adapt to recent developments and should make use digital possibilities in order to innovate its education.
Focus on the individual student
The individual student should be in the center of education. Individual needs and strength should be the starting point, not what the UG has to offer. Students need to get sufficient room to develop themselves optimally within the curriculum. Small-scaled and interactive education make that possible. In small classrooms students can develop important professional and social skills, they can follow their own interest, and individual differences are embraced.
- Funds from the basic students grants have to be invested into education.
The minister promised that funds available due to the abolishment of the Dutch basic student grants will be invested into the quality of education. Universities will receive those funds from 2018 onwards. Lijst Calimero agreed with the Board of the University that 70% of those funds will be spent on the recruitment of additional teachers. More teachers per student means smaller and more interactive classes, more attention for the individual student, and in general better learning outcomes. We are very happy that we could make this agreement. In the future, we will keep aiming for a structural release of additional funds for staff recruitment.
- More student assistants in order to decrease group sizes.
Well-trained student assistants can often be used to support and guide students during tutorials. Hiring more student assistants is a cost-efficient way to decrease the size of tutorial groups. At the same time, students get the chance to develop themselves and their skills as a student assistant.
Learning a course, not an exam
The individual student needs to be in the center of education and should be actively involved in the process of learning. Education should activate and stimulate students to be involved with the content of their curriculum. Passing a course should never be considered a goal by itself. It should much rather be considered as a process in which students can develop themselves optimally.
- Make use of various forms of examination.
Lijst Calimero thinks, that students should not only be evaluated based on the results of an exam at the end of a course. Their knowledge and skills need to be tested in various ways without increasing the study load for students. That way, it becomes possible to evaluate what students actually learned throughout a course. Lijst Calimero therefore pleads for a decrease in the amount of multiple choice exams.
- Students need to receive more feedback.
Too often students do not receive any feedback on their work, even though they would learn a lot from it. Lijst Calimero wants, that students can receive continuous feedback. New digital media facilitates that.
- Make more use of peer review.
Peer review means that students assess each other’s work based on guidelines formulated by the teacher. In that way, students can receive more feedback on their work and learn more from the mistakes made by themselves or others. Digital media is one way to use more peer review.
- Focus on continuous teaching.
The total of courses followed during a degree program should prepare students for their future. Therefore, one can never consider the courses separately, but one should consider them as a continuous teaching effort in which all courses together yield a meaningful diploma.
Smart application of new digital media
Students themselves use new digital media a lot, while higher education is still lacking behind. Digitalization opens up possibilities for more interactive education, diverse examination, and continuous feedback. New digital media allow teachers to track the students’ progress so that they can adapt to their individual skills and needs during lectures and tutorials. If digitalization happens too rapidly, however, it can cause problems, as well. Lijst Calimero therefore stresses that digitalization should be carefully considered so that it actually contributes to the quality of education.
- All lectures have to be available online.
Students largely benefit from lectures that are available online. They can prepare better for exams and following extra courses or a second study is facilitated.
- More digital exams.
Digital examination allows for more diverse examination in which students’ knowledge and skills are tested in various ways. Lijst Calimero also thinks, that digital exams improve the quality of examination. Additionally, it can be more efficient for both teachers and students.
- More use of personal digital assignments.
New digital media make it possible to tailor assignments to the individual student. Smart programs are able to track which parts of the course content a student already understands and where the student still needs to practice.
The interests of students must be heard
It is important that students’ interests are heard and that they are taken seriously. Every year the faction of Lijst Calimero is committed to represent students. Lijst Calimero thinks that participation at the UG could use an impulse to improve in both, structural consultations and involvement in important dossiers.
- Students should be involved in the spending of funds available due to the abolishment of the basic student grants.
Due to the abolishment of the Dutch basic student grants the financial position of students has been weakened. The Education minister promised that the money that will be saved in that way will be invested into improving the quality of education. If the new minister keeps this promise, our university will receive a yearly amount of €6.8 mln from 2018 onwards. For Lijst Calimero it is important that students will have a say on how this money should be invested. Participation bodies need to be involved. For 2018, we were able to make proper arrangements with the Board of the University already and we will do our best to make sure it stays this way in the future.
- It should be possible to look at course evaluations in advance.
Lijst Calimero thinks that students should be able to see the course evaluations of previous years before they start following a course. If students can see what is done with their feedback, they will be more willing to fill in course evaluations. Teachers will be forced to take feedback seriously and make changes, which in turn will improve the quality of education.
- The position of program committees needs to be strengthened.
Due to an amending law, program committees will be official participation bodies from September 2017 onwards. Program committees will play a more important role in ensuring high quality education. This year, Lijst Calimero wrote a plan to make sure that program committees will be prepared adequately for their new tasks. This plan will now be adapted by the faculties. Also next year, Lijst Calimero will make sure that the position of program committees will be strengthened further so that they can contribute to high quality education at our university.
- The right of consent on the branch campus in Yantai will be used to represent the interests of students.
In February 2017, Lijst Calimero together with the Personnel Faction was able to acquire the right of consent for the University Council and the faculty councils on the plan for UGY. Lijst Calimero will keep its critical position in the decision-making process. The branch campus can never threaten the quality of education at the UG or the quality of UG diplomas.
Better provision of information and less bureaucracy
Students often struggle with finding the right information, because information is scattered across various websites and the UG websites are not user-friendly. Additionally, it is often unclear how students can enroll for courses or request their Bachelor’s diploma. Lijst Calimero thinks it is about time that the UG invests in better provision of information.
- The University has to invest in a new website.
When students are looking for information on the UG website, they often google it. We think that is not acceptable. The UG needs to invest in a new, user-friendly website that combines all the online services. The often confusing Progress should be replaced by a user-friendly alternative in the new UG website.
- Administrative procedures should be equal across faculties.
It happens more and more that students follow additional courses outside of their own study. That is good, but in practice students are often confronted with difficulties. In order to facilitate this trend, it is important that the administrative procedures are equal across faculties, so that students always know how to enroll and what to expect at a different faculty.
- All University buildings should be mapped in Google Maps, including room numbers.
Students need to be able to find their way around UG building even though room indication scan often be confusing. A trial with the Harmony building already proofed that adding buildings including room number to Google Maps can be helpful. Lijst Calimero wants to extend this to all university buildings and has recently handed in a proposal to make this happen.