Entrepreneurs: university education must improve for all students
Dutch companies want higher education institutions to hit performance targets, and deliver better quality education to students in the Netherlands, reports Vokskrant. They suggest that universities and colleges should be judged on matters such as academic success and level of teaching. Business associations MKB-Nederland and VNO-NCW sent a list of proposals to the Minister of Education Jet Bussemaker. Universities, colleges and students call for more trust and less control, writes Volkskrant. They object to new performance agreements because they feel constrained by those frameworks, with emphasis on quantitative rather than qualitative assessment. Students also believe that curriculum could be made easier so that they could finish their studies quicker. Employers are generally dissatisfied with the level of university education, the groups say. “The dramatic increase in the number of students comes at the expense of the education quality,” they write. “The foremost task is to increase the quality.” The companies want universities to be judged by whether they fulfill agreements with the government about the quality of education. “In time, 20 percent of funding should depend on performance,” they wrote in the letter. That would be a threefold increase in the share as compared to now. Currently, a major share of funding is distributed based solely on the number of enrolled students. Companies believe that “incentives are needed in the system to counteract the stimulus to fund the number of students,” because “competition between institutions now is about how many students they bring in.” Employers communicate some ideas that they believe would improve education quality in their letter. For instance, they propose to increase the minimum required number of contact hours from 12 to 15 per week. They also suggest that labor market relevance of education should be part of performance assessment. The minister has to choose whether to listen to business or higher education institutions. “The current performance agreements are in place until the end of this year. In 2016, re-evaluation will take place. To react to the propositions before that is not very sensible,” a spokeswoman for the ministry said.