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Positive advice following NVAO’s Institutional audit

The turnout of managers, teachers, other staff, and students was great, the tension in the room was palpable and the joy audible when the chairman of the assessment panel, Professor G.P.M.F. Mols, summarized the panel’s feedback. Tilburg University has passed the Institutional audit and the assessment panel has stated it will issue positive advice to the NVAO (Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders) on all four standards of the Institutional audit.

At the beginning of February, the university will receive the panel’s advice report and submit it to the NVAO. If the NVAO adopts the advice, it is expected that, in April, Tilburg University will again be awarded the status of quality institution for a period of six years. A wonderful recognition of the quality of our institution that we are so proud of! Staff and students worked together for the assessment. Words of thanks and compliments for the management and execution of this intensive project are in order!

The Institutional audit of Tilburg University took place in November and December 2018. An external panel visited Tilburg University over a five-day period. The first part was an exploratory, two-day site visit on November 5 and 6, 2018. The panel looked at the four standards of the assessment framework for the NVAO’s Institutional audit:


1. Vision and policy
2. Implementation
3. Evaluation and monitoring
4. Focus on development

The second part was a three-day, in-depth site visit on December 17, 18, and 19. This visit focused on four topics, so-called trails, that the panel used to assess the four standards. It looked at ‘past performance in quality assurance’, case studies on TiSEM’s Bachelor’s program of Econometrics and Operational Research and TSHD’s Philosophy Bachelor. At TLS and TST, the panel evaluated the testing policy. Educational innovation and internationalization were explored as part of TSB’s Psychology Bachelor case study and educational innovation and digitalization in a case study on the joint Bachelor’s program of Data Science. Furthermore, the panel was shown around in CUBE.

Results

The panel stated that it had experienced what students had repeatedly said during interviews, namely, that they feel at home at Tilburg University. The panel considered the employees true ambassadors for the university and the students even better ones because they were so full of praise about the education, the facilities, and the positive things they had experienced in their studies.


The panel recognized Tilburg University’s educational vision being put into practice and indicated that the pillar of Character (in Knowledge-Skills-Character) can be further elaborated, in addition to good examples that were submitted to the panel, like TLS’s Law in Context course and TiSEM’s Improving Society Lab course. The panel advised the Schools to compare notes on how they implement the educational vision, to assess how students experience the educational vision, and use that information as input for further implementation.


The panel zoomed in on Tilburg University’s internationalization strategy. According to the panel, it seems to be mainly focused on growth at Tilburg University, whereas it could also be important for educational innovation. The panel indicated that there are many facilities for training and academic leadership and it recommends that these be firmly anchored.


The panel was of the opinion that evaluation and monitoring at Tilburg University are carried out properly. Students play an important role in evaluations; in the panel’s opinion, their contribution is properly taken into account. The panel observed that there is a well-established evaluation culture.


The panel was content about the testing policy. As regards development matters, the panel recommended to clearly indicate what is developed at a central level and what at a decentralized level. It also observed an open atmosphere, with short communication lines geared towards quality and improvement. The panel recommends that Tilburg University mainly communicates externally about its ‘gems’.


Overall, the panel has indicated that it is confident that the university will continue to develop in the area of quality in the coming years. With this panel advice, we have every reason to look forward to the NVAO’s definitive decision with confidence!