Actually, the policy on bachelor’s programmes already starts with a number of measures aimed at placing incoming students in a fitting educational trajectory even before they enter the first study year. Incoming students fill in a matching questionnaire. This questionnaire provides a student with insight into himself or herself as a student and offers him or her the opportunity to reflect on his or her choice of study. In addition, we provide the student with a programme-specific matching activity, which offers the potential student a realistic experience of study practice. In so doing, students and the programme management can experience concretely whether a good match is made.
In order to improve the quality of bachelor’s programmes, the set-up of education is renewed. The requirements to be fulfilled by each bachelor’s programme are described in a guideline. All bachelor’s programmes are characterised by a modular structure. Each programme has an optional space of at least 30 European Credits (ECs) and all programmes have an academic core of at least 24 ECs. The academic core underlines the importance we attach to the academic character of our bachelor’s programmes.
The educational programme is arranged in such a way that active participation of students is encouraged so as to improve study success. In principle, all subjects are 6 ECs and the level of each subject is indicated as either introductory, deepening, or advanced, thus providing insight into learning trajectories. Students have at least 12 hours of face-to-face instruction a week; in the first year this is 14 hours. On completion of a subject, the student is assessed and the assessment complies with the requirement of the assessment policy.
Within the framework of student counselling, each programme is introduced and a tutoring and/or mentorship system is in place during the first year. From the beginning of the academic year 2011-2012, a VU-wide BSA [binding recommendation regarding the next step in a student’s education] was implemented. It has had a positive influence on the number of credits obtained in the first year.
At VU Amsterdam we take into consideration the large diversity of our student population. Annually, for first generation students, an academic introductory course is offered in the form of a Summer Course, there is an exchange programme with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and the student platform, dialoog@vu, actively brings together students from different cultural backgrounds. The diversity policy also offers room for ambitious students, and those with additional qualities, to benefit more from their studies. For this purpose we have developed an honours programme together with the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
During the bachelor’s phase students prepare for the more internationally oriented master’s phase, and which is oriented on a labour market requiring international competence. Therefore, at VU Amsterdam we offer students the possibility of gaining experience abroad. Bachelor’s degree students, who do not go abroad, at least follow a subject taught in English by foreign lecturers and/or in an international setting.