Jet de Ranitz
Every week we introduce a different Acceleration Plan member to you. This week: Jet de Ranitz, CEO of SURF and member of the steering committee of the Acceleration Plan.
What kind of student were you in the past?
I had a vibrant student life and at the same time, I was a good student! Good in the sense that I always went to classes and did my homework. I knew that if I did that well enough, I would pass my exams. It was a kind of “9-to-5”-mentality: if you do the hours, you’ll get through it. By studying this way, I could fully enjoy being part of my sorority in the evening!
And I needed that sorority, because I didn’t enjoy my studies. I studied French at Leiden University and finished it purely on perseverance. I was disappointed with the degree and thought about quitting. But everyone kept saying: “You’ll be able to pick electives soon, and then it’ll be fun.” Well, I’ve never come to like it. Halfway through I seriously considered quitting. But then I had already spent 2.5 years, and switching majors meant starting all over again. I didn’t like the idea, so I said to myself: keep going, get the piece of paper and move on. In the end, I didn’t fare badly and graduated “with pleasure”.
I would have been blessed if there had been studying choice checks and trial studies in my day! I decided to study French because I was excluded from studying Business Administration. “I have to do something” really is the worst possible motivator to choose a degree.
Why do you work in education?
I’m originally not an educator. After my degree, I started working in the commercial sector, mainly in SMEs. There I worked with researchers from R&D departments, who often collaborated with researchers from universities. I thought this was quite interesting. I then moved on to working as director of a research school at Tilburg University. The great thing there was that education and research came together. After that role, I entered into the arts via Netherlands Dance Theatre to the Amsterdam University of the Arts. There I had the opportunity to become a director, which was a great opportunity.
The common thread in my career is not education, but working with professionals and knowledge development. Professionals are the greatest asset of an organisation. I try to help realise their dreams in my work. Whether it concerns economic models, a choreography or physical formulas, I want to hear what is in the minds of these passionate professionals and where they want to go. Often there is something groundbreaking in it: they want more, better, further. I find their drive and passion inspiring. Whether it concerns horticulture, nursing, or astronomy doesn’t matter to me.
In addition, as far as I am concerned, education is about transferring enthusiasm and knowledge to a new generation. We’re responsible for passing on traditions and best practices, and at the same time, we may and should question professional practice, and ask ourselves whether things couldn’t be done better or should be done differently. I like to play a role in that.
How did you end up with the Acceleration Plan?
I’ve been in the Strategy Team for the past year and a half, but Inholland has been involved in the EdTech zone from the start. Each institution was asked to participate in the Acceleration Plan. We had a good, collaborative relationship with SURF and we thought it important to contribute. This plan is crucial to take higher education in The Netherlands to the next level. We wanted to be closely involved. When the opportunity was offered to become a member of the Strategy Team, and thus also contribute as a director and exchange with other directors, I really liked the idea of it and I got on board. Under the leadership of Elisabeth (Minnemann, ed.) and Theo (Bastiaens, ed.), we succeeded in turning the Strategy Team into a group that finds inspiration together.
We started by thinking about what is needed and what we as administrators can (partly) do to make this Acceleration Plan a success. The zones are now entering the phase where we’re working towards concrete products. The Learning Analytics zone is developing a model with guidelines for the use of data in higher education. Another team is devising plans for the digital support of Lifelong Development; this must fit in with the substantive choices institutions want to make. Soon there’ll be concrete proposals, and then it’ll be exciting to see how we’ll implement them.
As a result of my transfer to SURF, I have since joined the steering group of the Acceleration Plan. Together with the steering group, we must carefully look at how we can return the revenues from the zones to The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, the Association of Universities in The Netherlands, and SURF. If we want to implement the results, real commitment is required from those parties. After all, if you want to bind the entire educational community and safeguard the investment, the sector organisations and SURF should have that ultimate conversation: “Are we really going to do it together?” As a steering group, we must ensure this is placed on the right agenda’s, especially if we want to make joint agreements – for example, about how we handle student data. There may also be things that we do not want to take over. And there’ll be things we can get along with right away, of which we say, “We’ll continue with this tomorrow.”
The Acceleration Plan has an open character and it’s been a good move to place it outside the existing structures. This has given the program the space to conduct the exploratory conversation. That space is needed to push boundaries. I am proud that this has been achieved. And I am pleased that it has been so successful to find energy and inspiration in the Acceleration Plan. This is thanks to the method we have chosen. In the beginning, it was quite a search, because generating energy for such a large project is not easy. The fact that this was successful is a compliment to everyone involved, as everyone has put a piece of themselves in it.
1970 Born in The Hague
1989 – 1995 Degree French at Leiden University
CEO at SURF since 2020, previously Chairman of the Executive Board of Inholland University of Applied Sciences