Julia Cleton

For most companies, skills are more important than very good grades’

Education at Tilburg University is inspired by the Tilburg Educational Profile (TEP). What does that mean for Master’s students? “It is great to be studying at a university that encourages and supports you in your development.”

Julia Cleton is a Strategic Management Master’s student. She has already completed a Bachelor’s program of Fiscal Economics following a pre-Master’s in Strategic Management. In addition, she is engaged in extra-curricular activities. She was a member of the University Council representing Fractie SAM for one year, did a board year as the treasurer of Serve the City, worked as a student member in TiSEM’s management team and is currently a member of the Tilburg Educational Profile working group as a student employee. “It is an effective way to develop additional skills such as working in a team and critical thinking. In your time as a student, you ride a steep learning curve. Of course you absorb a lot of knowledge but you also develop your skills and character.”

TEP’s three pillars, Knowledge, Skills and Character, are all reflected in Tilburg University’s Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. How did you become aware of TEP?

“I already know a lot about TEP as a result of my extra-curricular activities. More than the average student, I guess. In my time at the University Council, we were regularly informed about the progress of TEP and its implementation in our curriculum. It was interesting to see how a university puts its educational profile into practice.”

‘Developing skills and character is important during your Master’s program because you are focused on what you want to do after you graduate and what you need to achieve that.’

How is TEP borne out in the Master’s programs?

“It is reflected in basic components, for instance, academic skills like conducting sound academic research, taking a critical look at its output, working on your thesis independently, developing an entrepreneurial attitude, and presenting your conclusions. Different programs will emphasize different aspects. A friend of mine who is studying Philosophy told me that they focus on debating skills rather than on working in a team. The latter is a lot more relevant for my program. In Strategic Management, for instance, we discuss actual business cases of existing enterprises. And as part of the Strategy Implementation course, we play a kind of online game based on a practical business case. For instance, you play the role of the CEO of a company that is on the eve of a big change. How are you going to address this change? How do you keep all your employees informed? I really enjoy getting to work with business cases in such a practical way.”

Why is TEP important?

“Because your time as a student is an important period in your character development. And because it is more important than ever that a study program matches employers’ needs. Of course, we are getting an academic education. But only a small percentage of us will continue in academia. The major part will get other jobs in society. I think that there is less need of graduates with very high grades. Companies want recent graduates with good collaboration, critical thinking, and presentation skills and whose character and mindset fit the business culture. I think that that it is more important. And these are exactly the things that TEP is paying attention to. In addition, TEP makes students aware of their responsibility, as the leaders of the future, towards their employees, their social circle, and the environment. The world today faces many social issues. It is up to our generation to address them. I think it’s important that Tilburg University informs its students about these issues and makes them pause for thought, for instance, based on real-world cases.

‘I think it is important that the university makes students think about social issues.’

Moreover, TEP is a way for the university to distinguish itself: these are the types of graduates we want to provide society with and this is what we find important to teach our students during their time here. Tilburg University offers a number of broad study programs; why would prospective students want to opt for this university? TEP could be one of the reasons.”

How important is TEP for Master’s students?

“In my view, TEP may be even more important for Master’s than for Bachelor’s students, because they are more seriously focused on working on themselves and on their studies. They are more oriented on what they want to do after graduation and what they need to achieve that. Nevertheless, TEP’s principles are also clearly reflected in the Bachelor’s programs. For instance, there are opportunities to take a Philosophy course or a minor or internship, and there is PASS, the Program for Academic Study Success: first-years work in peer groups of approximately 25 students in which they also receive tutoring. You can also develop your knowledge, skills and character outside the Bachelor’s and Master’s programs, for instance, by becoming a committee member in a study association, doing a board year, visiting career fairs, working as a student employee, or becoming active in your community.”