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Smarter academic year aims to reduce pressure on students and staff

Published on 18-04-2023 18:27
Reducing the pressure on students and lecturers: the UvA is taking part in pilots for a 'smarter academic year'
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Compared with neighbouring countries, the Dutch academic year is intensive and long. This puts a lot of pressure on students and lecturers. How can we reduce the pressure without detracting from the quality of our education? The UvA participates in three pilot projects for ‘A smarter academic year’.

A smarter academic year

The Young Academy’s report ‘A smarter academic year’ External linkprompted a nationwide investigation by Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). Over the next four years, 15 higher education institutions will set to work on a range of different pilot projects. OCW is making €12.7 million euros available for this purpose.

The UvA is taking part in 3 pilot projects

Pilot 1: Reflection and curricula review excercise

In this pilot, degree programmes from the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG), the Faculty of Science (FNWI) and Amsterdam University College (AUC) will experiment with a smarter organisation of the academic year. Would organising the 8-week teaching blocks differently reduce the workload of staff and students?

Pilot 2: Evaluation of blended learning

Degree programmes from FMG and FNWI will consider how automation and artificial intelligence (AI) could be used in the assessment process. This would reduce the amount of marking for lecturers. Students may benefit from different forms of assessment, objectively comparable marks and quicker availability of test results. Programme director Erwin van Vliet (Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences) talks about his experiment on the news programme NOS Radio 1 Journal (3:16:40)

To the radio programma (in Dutch)External link

Pilot 3: Scan degree programmes for problem areas for students and lecturers

If different courses give rise to peaks in workload at the same time, students and lecturers can run into difficulties. This third, integrated pilot looks at the overall workload that degree programmes place on students and lecturers and the way in which degree programmes are organised. Degree programmes from the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG), the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) and the Faculty of Humanities (FGW) are developing a scan to analyse problem areas.

What else?

The UvA is acting as project coordinator together with Erasmus University Rotterdam. The universities are working together on monitoring and knowledge sharing. Both universities have appointed a project lead. They will set up a platform to share knowledge and information with all participating degree programmes. They will also organise yearly meetings.

Get involved!

UvA project lead Alexandra Schouten-Voskamp wants to closely involve students, lecturers and support staff in what is going on. 'If the ambitions of "A smarter academic year" are to be achieved, this is crucial. I would urge everyone to get involved.'

Further information

If you have any questions, contact Alexandra Schouten-VoskampExternal link.