From September 2017 onwards, all economy study programmes of the university of applied sciences, jointly called ‘the new RBS’, will be located together in a new building at Kralingse Zoom.
Construction is well under way; everything is going according to plan. However, as decided in 2014, the education itself needs to be reorganised as well. What exactly do these plans entail, and are preparations for these changes going according to plan, too?
‘A few things are clear,’ Peter Karstel, Dean of IBK (business administration), states. ‘We are not creating one School with a whole range of study programmes; no, a lot will remain the same. There are, and there will continue to be, four economic Schools (COM, IFM, IBK and RBS), all with their own managers, Deans and education programmes. However, the Deans will be part of a management team that will line up policies. The first-year stages (‘propedeuses’) will not be merged either. Nevertheless, the four Schools want to achieve an increase in return, a decrease in drop-outs, equal opportunities for students of Western and non-Western backgrounds, and a stronger link with the business world.’
There are some additional wishes. Education, for instance, needs to be more flexible: it should be easier for students to combine courses from different study programmes and thus shape their desired education themselves. Digital learning must always be given a boost. ‘The board really should focus more on this,’ says Gerard van Assem, interim programme director. ‘We want to map out which teacher masters what, what every teacher must at least be able to do and how we can increase the competence of teachers that require additional knowledge. That is where additional funds need to go, as far as I’m concerned. We also want to properly combine remote learning and learning in the classroom. Remote learning alone is not enough.’
The new RBS also wants to become the first major international domain that focuses on entrepreneurship and business ethics. ‘We want to teach students how to withstand the temptations of the financial world,’ says Karstel. ‘Which is why we will focus heavily on this aspect in the education.’
COM is a frontrunner
In terms of educational innovation, the COM School (commercial economics) is a frontrunner. In the past academic year, the study programme was split up into communities, blocks only lasted five weeks (less courses at the same time, but more in a row), there were fewer resits, the sixty-credit BSR was introduced, it was possible to compensate insufficient marks, and there was stricter guidance. The other economics study programmes pay close attention to the developments at COM and are considering taking similar measures. However, saying that COM is the blueprint for all this would be overstating things, according to Karstel and Van Assem.
Karstel: ‘In literature and debate on educational innovation, as in COM, focus lies on short-cycle education (shorter blocks), more intensive contact between teacher and student and the introduction of a compensation scheme. These are elements you’ll also find in economics education in various forms. The concepts of the study programmes have only just been presented to the academic boards, who will now have to give their opinion after which the curriculum committees will have to further develop and implement the programmes. Only BIM (Business IT & Management) will start one year later. That particular study programme will be accredited next year, and we feel it’s not smart to have that programme enter into an education innovation process next year.’
The study programmes themselves will have to decide which measures they will implement and how. Karstel: ‘You could look at the economics education of the future as one big family, the study programmes of which are all unique individuals.’
Part-time new RBS
The part-time study programmes of Human Resource Management, MER Business Administration, Business IT & Management, Business Economics, and Commercial Economics are combined into one organisation unit under the supervision of one course manager. Last year, a major subsidy request for the innovation of the entire HR part-time study programme was denied by the Ministry of Education.
‘Nevertheless, we will still continue with the concept we came up with at the time,’ Van Assem explains. The part-time education will focus on working adults with a flexible offer of sizeable modules (15 to 30 credits). The modules can be stacked and will eventually result in a diploma. Workplace learning is a major part of the learning process, which is why it is mandatory to have a relevant workplace. The offer of education will become flexible: there will be an option to speed up or slow down. You can speed up by doing exams or assessments in advance without taking classes. The ambition is to, in time, develop a part-time business study programme in which students can specialise in various fields.
Meanwhile, plans are drawn up to streamline educational support. All administration offices will be placed in one hallway in the new building and the Deans will also be placed close together. The administration offices are working on agreements concerning, for example, grade administration or exam administration.
Project groups that include teachers and course managers of different study programmes and administration staff members discuss topics such as internationalisation, electives, minors, assessment, external relations and finances.
‘Educational innovation of the economic field will not be completed on 1 September 2017,’ Karstel states. ‘It is a continuous process that will continue after 1 September. Nevertheless, most study programmes will have a new curriculum on 1 September for the first year that will then begin.’
Dorine van Namen
Over 10,000 students, 12 Bachelor programmes, 3 Master programmes and a research group.
Business Economics (IFM)
MER Business Administration (IBK)
Business IT & Management (IBK)
Commercial Economics (and Sports Marketing) (CoM)
Financial Services Management (IFM)
Tax Law & Economics (IFM)
Human Resource Management (IBK)
International Business and Languages (RBS)
International Business and Management Studies (RBS)
Small Business and Retail Management (CoM)
Trade Management focused on Asia (RBS)
Master in Consultancy & Entrepreneurship
Master in Finance and Accounting
Master in Logistics Management
Research Group Innovative Entrepreneurship
CoM = School for Commercial Management
IBK = School for Business Administration
IFM = School for Financial Management
RBS = Rotterdam Business School
Illustration: Demian Janssen