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Minister visits the Acceleration Plan

6 February 2020 Acceleration Plan
February 3, 2020

Visit Minister of Education

On Monday February 3rd, Minister of Education Van Engelshoven visited the zones Better connection to the job market and Facilitating professional development for lecturers of the Acceleration Plan. The visit took place at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch.

The minister was welcomed by Hans Nederlof, chairman of the steering group of the Acceleration Plan and member of the Executive Board of Fontys University of Applied Sciences and Paul Rüpp, chairman of the Executive Board of Avans University of Applied Sciences. After a word of welcome from Paul, in which he handed over the Ambitions for 2025 of the institution to the minister, a brief word of thanks from Hans followed. The leaders of the zones and zone members had prepared an extensive and informative programme for the minister.

Round table session zone Job market connection

The zone Better connection to the job market kicked off with a round table session with the minister. The conversation focused on the collaboration between education, research and the job market. Caroline van de Molen, leader of the zone and director of the Academy of People and Labor at Saxion University of Applied Sciences, had brought along several colleagues from Saxion and Fontys to talk about the projects in which they collaborate with education, research and the job market. They explained what such a collaboration looks like and how stakeholders – students, the professional field and education – benefit from this collaboration.

Various initiatives were discussed. Dorine Koopman works in the Wijklink project, a project that brings together 2600 healthcare professionals and care education students. Students in this project take place in a team in Wijklink for six months in order to gain practical experience with professionals. The project is so successful that it is now being considered whether and how it can be extended to the social domain and the welfare sector. Stephan Corporaal and Maria Hendrinks from TechYourFurture talked about the cooperation between education and companies in Twente in tackling the energy transition. Companies must go through this energy transition, but cannot do that without cooperation with education. It is of great added value that education plays the role of a link between education, research and the professional field. Mariëlle Taks from Fontys University of Applied Sciences and member of the zone Job market connection works at Brainport. Brainport addresses the large shortage on the job market and the ever-widening gap between the higher and lower educated. Brainport is an ecosystem that argues from the students’ talent: what do these students need to prevent them from dropping out?

Constanze Thomassen told the minister about the companies that are affiliated with the Innovation Hub of Fontys University of Applied Sciences. In this collaboration, companies deliver their IT issues, which are central to the collaboration with and assignments from students. A recent, striking example is from football club PSV. The club collects data and wanted to know how they can use this data for the benefit of the training sessions. Data is a hot topic, and learning analytics is an important point in the Ministry’s Strategic Agenda. Caroline is working with her zone on the preparation of future-proof competence profiles, and said that her zone also recognises the importance of this: “Being able to handle data is reflected in all competence profiles for students from different study programmes.”

Conversation tables for the zone Professional development

After the round table discussion, the leaders of the zone Professional development, Ronald Spruit of Avans University of Applied Sciences and Kim Schildkamp of the University of Twente took the minister into the work of their zone. Kim said that for good lecturer professionalisation, all levels within higher education must be taken into account: institution level, operational level, sector level, and national level. Everyone must be involved and reached, not just the lecturers who already lead the way. Because all levels are important, Ronald thanked the minister for her presence. Ronald also thanked the lecturers and students who were present. In the end, we do all of this for them.

The zone has set itself the goal that all lecturers participate in professionalising, and not just the precursors. To achieve that, an integrated approach is needed. That is why the Integrated Approach working group has developed a motion sensor. With the help of this motion sensor, institutions can assess how lecturer professionalisation works (or not works yet) in their institution. This motion sensor consists of four pillars, which were the subject of the discussion tables for which the minister was invited. The four pillars are: Leadership, Vision and policy, Professionalisation and Infrastructure. The minister joined the Leadership and Vision and Policy discussion tables. Afterwards, she said that it was very valuable to hear how certain new developments and projects work out in practice, for both teachers and students.

Mini Expo

After the discussion tables, Ronald Spruit took the minister along on a mini-exhibition with contributions from Avans University of Applied Sciences, Saxion University of Applied Sciences and Fontys University of Applied Sciences. Avans made four contributions in the theme “Avans learns with and for technology”. The teacher training college presented the drone that they use in mathematics education. The Academy of Healthcare had prepared their VR software to show the minister how VR glasses allow students to view parts of the human body from up close and from all sides. The minister was clearly interested in this. Without hesitation, she put on the VR glasses to experience for herself how this technology works for students.

Students and teachers of the Avans Academy Associate Degree showed the online learning module and a mobile learning game that is used for teaching 21st century skills. For the minister, the Informatics Academy brought an example of practical questions from real clients that Computer Science students are working on. The example was from the municipality of ‘s-Hertogenbosch that wanted to do count traffic in the city center in a smarter way. The students then developed a camera that follows visitors and the route they follow.

The theme of the contribution from the zone Job market connection in which Saxion University of Applied Sciences and Fontys University of Applied Sciences contributed was “Learning with and for the increasingly digital job market”. Among other things, they showed how institutions translate job market needs into educational provision for various target groups, and how higher education institutions can collaborate with companies to unlock “new” knowledge and integrate it faster into their education.

After more than two hours of conversations, showcases and discussions, the team leaders and part of the Acceleration Plan programme team had the opportunity to round off the visit with the minister during a lunch. Here the team leaders talked about their ambitions and the minister thanked them for their efforts and contributions during the visit.

We warmly thank the minister for coming, and we thank Avans for providing the location and organising all facilities. We look back on a successful visit.

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