(Rotterdam) – Today the 88th Council Meeting was held and the most important matter on the agenda was to discuss the letter in which dean Franses proposes to ditch the MSc Economics & ICT, part of the Master in Economics & Informatics (E&I). The letter caused a lot of controversy, as it was agreed upon 2 years ago the Master program would continue to exist after the discontinuation of the Bachelor E&I. As Harry Trienekens, personnel member, noted it was the first time in long time that the Student members and Personnel members sat together to discuss a matter. This has been an initiative of student member .
Another reason for the controversy is that after 3 years it is still unclear what the ESE-board wants to do with ICT for the ‘normal’ economics students. 3 years ago the board clearly stated that they consider ICT to be very important for economics students, therefore more ICT should be embedded in the existing curriculum. Ivo Arnold noted that for example the accountancy students desperately need more ICT-knowledge. This ‘wish’ for more ICT has been repeated today, but at the same time there are difficulties regarding hiring new personnel to teach ICT related courses. The recent past has showed many teachers have left because their contracts were not extended.
He said, she said
Some statements of the board were hard to accept as the truth, as other sources tell a different story. For example, Ivo Arnold explicitly stated today that he signed for the resignation of Assistant Professor Matthew Guah, while another reliable source has informed The ANDY Standard that there was no case of contract termination, but instead the refusal of extending the contract.
The Council is partly experiencing a flashback from two years ago as the board confronted the Council with yet another ‘fait accompli’ because it is only just now being informed about alleged problems in the MSc Economics & ICT. Supposedly no qualified personnel can be found. And once again, the board, instead of trying to actually solve the problems by hiring personnel, wants to “eliminate” the Master program. All this is happening only two years after the agreement was made between the ESE and former Vice-Chancellor (rector magnificus) S. Lamberts to continue both Master programs Computational Economics and Economics & ICT.
That is why the Council placed many question marks at the ‘proposed solution’ in the dean’s letter and refused to come with a decision today. Instead, the Council, among other things, requested more information on the strategy of ICT in the curriculum for economics students. If Economics & ICT gets ditched, it is expected even more teachers will leave, hence leaving little behind to teach ICT. If that happens, then the ‘repositioning of informatics’ dating from 2008 can be considered as a big failure for the board. This will cause even more people to be skeptic of the real board’s intentions to ditch the Bachelor E&I two years ago.
Back in December students complained about the decreased quality of several courses in the, now closing, E&I bachelor program. The fact is new teachers had to be hired, but that was not done in all cases. Thus, the ESE was not able to provide the same quality as in the past and naturally students were forced to complain.
A statement , part of the findings on student complaints, says “student were able to choose between taking an exam for the course ‘Discrete Wiskunde’ or to make homework assignments to pass the course”. Students have informed The ANDY Standard they were never confronted with a choice, but that the ‘choice’ was made for them to make homework. This is remarkable as up until last year this course always consisted of a final exam. Additionally, the report noted that last year’s exam has been compared to this year’s exam: noted that this must have been a very difficult job as there was no exam for ‘Discrete Wiskunde’ this year.
Another interesting statement made by Ivo Arnold was that he supposedly had taken the initiative to contact Study Association VRiSBI (for E&I) to discuss the student complaints. Representatives of VRiSBI were present during today’s meeting and reacted very surprised as they knew nothing about anything. As for Arnold’s so-called ‘initiative’ it should be mentioned that in fact it were the students that had taken the initiative by contacting Rob van der Wal and that they in no way represent the whole student population. Latest reports are that VRiSBI will have talks with Arnold coming Monday.