Education agenda: guide to improvement

The 2018-2023 Education Agenda sets out how we strive towards:

* boosting the quality culture
A VU-wide, shared and broadly-based ambitious culture must be created in which lecturers continue their professional development and provide challenging education, with a strong, implicit sense of quality culture and extremely well organized quality assurance.

* improving students’ academic success
VU Amsterdam organizes all of its educational activities with the aim of creating an inclusive climate with room for diversity, where all students feel welcome and have equal opportunity to do well in their chosen degree programmes, leading to a successful and smooth transition from Bachelor’s to Master’s programmes and the optimal development of their talents while helping them prepare to enter the job market.

* a well-balanced and internationally appealing education portfolio
VU Amsterdam designs its Bachelor’s, Master’s and Postgraduate portfolios to appeal to a national and international audience and to be in line with the university’s profile. The portfolios must also offer students access to very diverse subjects and courses.

* further innovation of education
VU Amsterdam invests in the continued innovation of its teaching and education in order to facilitate the alignment of course content, teaching methodology and IT, while lecturers receive the support they need to continue to innovate their education.

* optimizing support
VU Amsterdam optimizes its educational support systems in such a way that students, lecturers and teaching managers feel properly supported.

We have been working on the basis of an Education Agenda since 2013. The 2013-2017 Education Agenda has already achieved a number of fine results.

* Learning university
The institution’s internal quality assurance is assessed by means of the Institutional Quality Assurance Audit. The 2013-2017 Education Agenda resulted in a strong emphasis on improving the quality assurance of our teaching and boosting our quality culture. In 2014, VU Amsterdam passed the Institutional Audit under preconditions and went on to fully pass the audit in 2016, with the audit committee commending VU Amsterdam for the results it had achieved in just under two years and referring to VU Amsterdam as a ‘learning university’.

* Upward trend in student satisfaction with their degree programme
The 2013-2017 Education Agenda included increased efforts to improve student satisfaction, evidenced from the National Student Survey. The Survey score for ‘student’s opinion on the degree programme in general’ rose from 3.8 to 4.03 within three years. In the Keuzegids Universiteiten 2017, VU Amsterdam showed the greatest growth in the category ‘broad-based university’ and rose to a joint fourth place.

* Upsurge in professionalism of teaching staff
VU Amsterdam met the performance agreements which the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science made with universities and universities of applied science (HBO) about improving their teaching. In 2016, the Review Committee issued positive advice on all aspects of VU Amsterdam’s performance agreements and expressed its appreciation for the substantial increase in the percentage of teaching staff holding a University Teaching Qualification (UTQ) and for the sharp reduction in indirect costs. The minister adopted the Committee’s advice and in 2017 awarded VU Amsterdam a sum of 10.5 million euros in performance funding.

* Modernization of Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes under way
The evaluation of the Bachelor’s and Master’s guidelines in the autumn of 2016 showed that the changes to Bachelor’s education had been largely achieved and that where this was not the case the faculties had been formally authorized to waive the guideline (on a temporary basis). The modernization of Master’s education commenced more slowly, but has now been set in motion by most of the faculties.

* Greater emphasis on teaching
During its first five years the Education Agenda has yielded further results. By investing, during a number of consecutive years, in the modernization of education, the professionalization of teaching staff and innovation in facilities, the quality of education has improved across the whole university. Initiatives such as the knowledge network KnowVU, the strengthening of the position of teaching portfolio holders and Programme Directors under the new administrative regulations, and the development and implementation of the Teaching Performance Framework all indicate that teaching is an increasingly important focus area, the value of which is recognized. 

The VU Educational Quality Assurance Plan was drafted as part of the 2018-2023 Education Agenda. This quality assurance plan ties in with the themes that were adopted in quality agreements at the national level and came about in close consultation with employee participation bodies.