Master Global Health – Maastricht University

Maastricht, Netherlands

Reviewed by NVAO

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Executive summary

Standard 1

This master’s programme is based on the idea that the term Global Health captures a sense of commonality across borders and the need for a commitment to improve health throughout the world. The panel concludes that this part of the programme’s vision is relevant and inherently international, but not distinctive. On the other hand, the implications of these ideas for the programme’s vision on the ideal learning environment are unique. The programme’s vision on internationalisation includes the idea that international partnerships are a must for teaching and working in the current global health domain: in terms of teaching, equal partnerships provide students with opportunities for international staff and student exchange and for intercultural learning. The panel concludes that the programme has a clear and explicit vision on internationalisation, in terms of the content of the curriculum as well as in terms of the learning environment and student and staff mobility. This vision on internationalisation includes verifiable objectives. The partnerships are a unique feature of it. The vision on internationalisation is actively supported and evaluated by the university and by an Advisory Board consisting of representatives from the professional field. Creating a shared vision on internationalisation at a faculty level is a challenge. Although progress can still be made, the faculty and the programme are on the right track.

Standard 2

According to the panel, almost all of the intended learning outcomes include international and intercultural aspects (explicitly or implicitly). They connect to both subject-specific elements of the programme’s vision on internationalisation, as well as to intercultural and electronic communication skills training. The assessment methods used in the master’s programme are varied, include group work and individual assignments, and are well connected to the international and intercultural learning outcomes and the PBL concept (see Standard 3). The panel studied ten master’s theses. The theses are relevant to discussions in the international field of Global Health and cover a variety of international topics. The use of English is a point for improvement. The quality of English language use in the master’s theses varied. Graduates are well equipped for working in the international area of Global Health or for taking up a PhD position.

Standard 3

The panel concludes that an international dimension is intrinsic to the programme and evident in the curriculum. The programme has links to recent international developments and provides students with specialised knowledge and skills. The panel is confident that the structure and content of the curriculum enable students to achieve the international and intercultural intended learning outcomes. The programme uses PBL as its didactic concept. The panel finds that using PBL in an international student community is a real challenge and requires permanent attention. It is convinced about its implementation in the master’s programme Global Health. Learning about online intercultural communications in the Foundations of Global Health course is an interesting addition to the intercultural learning through PBL. The panel agrees that the idea of intercultural learning is suitable for achieving the intended international and intercultural learning outcomes of the programme. The learning environment of the master’s programme is well equipped for this.

Standard 4

In 2011-2012, the staff-student ratio for the master’s programme Global Health was 1:17.2. According to the panel, the quantity of teaching staff is adequate. The teaching staff of the master’s programme Global Health consists of eleven core staff members, originating from four European countries and the USA and from six different departments within two faculties. The panel is very positive about the general quality, international experience and engagement of the staff. Furthermore, sufficient services are in place to facilitate their international experiences, intercultural competence and language skills.

Standard 5

The majority of students in the programme come from the European region. The panel is convinced that the programme takes this issue seriously. Students have ample opportunities for intercultural interaction and to travel abroad. All students follow the Foundations of Global Health course, which aims to expose them to interdisciplinary, international and intercultural teamwork, by composing project groups with students from the partner universities. Furthermore, all students travel to Manipal University in India at the end of the winter term for a two-week Learning Symposium. In addition, students can do an elective track at one of the partner universities in the winter term and may decide to do an internship at one of the international organisations during the summer term. The panel is very impressed with the international and intercultural experiences that have been integrated in the one-year programme on Global Health. In this particular respect, the programme can be considered an example of international ‘best practice’. Sufficient services have been put in place to support incoming and outgoing students.