European Studies – Zuyd University of Applied Sciences

Maastricht, Netherlands

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Zuyd University of Applied Sciences

Executive summary

The Bachelor programmes European Studies (ES) and International Business (IB) are part of the Faculty of International Business and Communication (FIBC) of Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. The audit panel assessed the distinctive quality feature internationalization for both programmes as good.

Standard 1

The audit panel is satisfied with the vision on internationalisation as formulated by Zuyd and FIBC. The strategic goals of FIBC are derived from the vision of Zuyd. This in its turn was the basis for the definition of key internationalisation strategic goals for the study programmes ES and IB. The audit panel thinks that the goals of both study programmes are clear but there is still room for formulating even more specific visions on internationalisation for IB and ES.

The audit panel is pleased with the fact that the objectives form an integrated part of the mind set of everyone it interviewed who clearly support these. It shows that these objectives are internalised. The quantitative objectives are verifiable on the basis of available data and the programmes are busy making the qualitative objectives verifiable as well.

The quality assurance system for internationalisation is an integral part of the mainstream quality assurance of Zuyd and FIBC. This makes it a strong instrument. The fact that FIBC keeps searching for methods of measuring internationalisation and cultural sensitivity (e.g. Global Minds project) shows that there is thorough quality awareness among management, staff and students.

The audit panel assesses Standard 1 for both study programmes as good.

Standard 2

The international and intercultural learning outcomes are completely integrated in the overall learning outcomes of the programme of IB and ES and a clear reflection of the programmes’ vision. In the end the outcomes will certainly guarantee that graduates possess the sought after international mind.

The assessment methods in both programmes have a sound basis that is guaranteed by a solid formal assessment system. The audit panel is impressed by the varied ways of assessing international and intercultural competences. In all tests and exams there are international and/or intercultural aspects. The IB and the ES programmes can guarantee that all students achieve the required international and intercultural competences. Because there is a relatively small number of graduates the audit panel took into account the achievements in the internship that is has seen, and the fact that many graduates pursue an internationally oriented master programme.

The audit panel concludes that IB and ES have tackled the difficult challenge of assessing international and intercultural learning outcomes in a thorough and consistent way.

With the Global-Minds project FIBC has found an instrument for measuring cultural awareness and sensitivity. Furthermore external professionals are asked to assess group exercises, e.g. lobby pitches (ES) and real-life business cases (IB).

The audit panel is of the opinion that both IB and ES could invest in collecting data from surveys on how alumni evaluate the international orientation of the courses. Also a more systematic research into the careers of the alumni could be developed to gain interesting data in the future.

The panel assesses Standard 2 for both study programmes as good.

Standard 3

The audit panel is convinced that both IB and ES have curricula and a learning environment that enables students to achieve the international and intercultural learning outcomes. Projects, company visits, study exchange and internships are all performed in an international context, mostly abroad. Every learning activity is either international and/or intercultural or is placed in an international context. Language training, two foreign languages for IB and three for ES, is an essential part of both curricula. The audit panel thinks it is a strong point that in both programmes there is an obligatory stay abroad (IB: internship, ES: study exchange). But it equally applauds that next to that students are provided with many opportunities for gaining international and intercultural experiences at home. The use of the virtual classroom and Skype make it possible to work in international teams of students. The strategic goals of international projects and the development and maintenance of an international curriculum and didactical approach are certainly met.

The audit panel feels that the concept of the international classroom works out well in the curricula of IB and ES. The international classroom is not restricted to the classroom but can be found everywhere in the building which turns this into a real international learning environment suitable for achieving the intended international and intercultural learning outcomes. To transform the old building, where both programmes are housed, into an international community might be a challenge. On the other hand, the facilities are up to date and staff and students feel safe and comfortable at the Brusselseweg.

The panel assesses Standard 3 for both programmes as good.

Standard 4

The audit panel is very pleased with the teaching and support staff and the opportunities they get to develop and expand their international knowledge and skills. Both teaching and support staff hold international and intercultural experiences and almost all have engaged in international activities abroad much more than the required once every three years. The composition of the teaching staff is very good: in IB 18 percent has a foreign nationality, at ES this percentage is 33. In addition, a lot of effort is made to invite international guest lecturers to complement the skills of the regular staff.

The requirements concerning language skills are high: the minimum level for English is C1 and will be C2 in the near future. For the foreign languages there is at least one native speaker for English, French, German and Spanish. The emphasis on language skills is fitting for the programmes ES and IB, but also intercultural sensitivity, keeping up with international standards etc. are a continuous focus. The strategic goal, develop and maintain international professionalism is certainly met and exemplary for other programmes. The audit panel considers staff members real international role models for the students.

The audit panel is really impressed by the culture at FIBC where international and intercultural activities are stimulated by the management. The X-lab is a very interesting opportunity to communicate in a virtual classroom with the world through modern ICTtechnology and several staff members already have some experience in using it for their courses.

The audit panel assesses Standard 4 for both programmes as excellent.

Standard 5

The audit panel is pleased to notice that from the start students are embedded in an international setting. The group composition of IB and ES enables students to achieve the intended international learning outcomes, although it would be good if the number of international student in the ES programme increases. The many experiences abroad (internships and study exchange) in particular offer students ample international and intercultural opportunities. Furthermore, there are study trips, international projects and international study cases. On a more informal basis students can participate in for instance the French Language Café.

The audit panel concludes that the coaching of the students is well organised and well appreciated by students. The intensity of the coaching diminishes year by year, but students can always get in touch with their coach. The buddy system guarantees a good introduction to the Dutch culture and the study programme for international students, while the Dutch students get more knowledgeable about the cultures of the international students.

The support from the International Offices and the Internship Office is excellent according to the students. They feel no hesitation in contacting these offices. With regard to the information, students gave comments on the Infonet which contains a lot of information in Dutch and is therefore not very user friendly for the international students. The audit panel understands and appreciates that Zuyd is working on this issue.

The audit panel assesses Standard 5 for both programmes as good.