In the UvA's approach to study success, a distinction is made between the first year of the Bachelor's programme and the remaining years of the programme.
The first year of the Bachelor's programme centres around orientation, selection and referral. The aim is to ensure that students find their way to the most suitable programme in the earliest possible stage of their academic career. The remaining years of the Bachelor’s programme are designed to ensure that the remaining students obtain their degree certificate as effectively (and quickly) as possible.
The term ‘study success’ relates to the percentage of students who complete their studies within a specified period. Study success also relates to the extent to which a student is facilitated and supported in his/her efforts to successfully complete the degree programme. The quality and academic feasibility of the degree programme are key in this regard.
In 2008, a Study Success Working Group was established to analyse study success results at the UvA and formulate recommendations for the Executive Board regarding the improvement of study success rates. The conclusions of this analysis – along with twenty recommendations for evidence-based measures – have been bundled in a report issued by the Study Success Working Group.
Based on this report, the Executive Board subsequently commissioned an action plan that incorporates and elaborates on the twenty recommendations. The past few years have seen intensive efforts to implement these recommendations, generally on a project basis per individual faculty. The implementation of this programme will continue at full speed during the term covered by the new Strategic Plan.
One of the most important recommendations concerned the need to align the curricula of the various UvA degree programmes.
A uniform academic calendar and modules of uniform weight are crucial in facilitating the exchange of courses between the various degree programmes. A uniform academic calendar helps minimise study delays incurred by students seeking to take a minor or elective in another degree programme or to transfer to another programme. The courses for each degree programme start and end simultaneously.
Rather than depending on just one or two factors, study success is based on the effective interplay of all relevant aspects within the degree programme and University.
The UvA strives to apply an integral approach: by getting to know its students as thoroughly as possible in an early stage, the University aims to ensure an optimal match between student and degree programme. To ensure its students are not left ‘in limbo’, the UvA then provides intensive coaching, supervision and monitoring, and offers support where necessary. All efforts in this regard are aimed at stimulating the student’s progress.
The UvA’s approach is based on the interplay between these various factors. For example, the University cannot issue a binding study advice if students are not in the right degree programme, are not receiving proper supervision, if the quality of the degree programme is substandard and courses have not been properly aligned.
The role of the Study Success Working Group has changed since the implementation of most of the recommendations from the Study Success report. The Working Group now mainly serves as a platform where information on educational innovations pertaining to study success can be brought together and disseminated. The Working Group seeks to stimulate, inform, advise on and discuss all themes relevant to study success, thereby helping education planners and experts to learn from each other and from one another’s problems and solutions.