Master of Science in Bioinformatics (Bioscience Engineering)

Quality assurance

People who dare to think about the challenges of tomorrow, that is what we aim for. That is why education at our university is firmly anchored in six major objectives.

  1. Think broadly. Thinking as broadly as possible and offering the opportunity to question oneself. Not only Dare to Think, but also dare to change the way of thinking.
  2. Keep researching. Research is the foundation of our education. Ghent University keeps linking its way of educating to the dynamics of science.
  3. Support Talent. Everyone starts with equal opportunities. Every students gets the opportunity to develop their talents, regardless of gender, cultural or social background.
  4. Build with us. Students, staff, the government and the corporate world all get the chance to contribute to the contents and form of our high quality education. Ghent University is known for its particularly active students in student participation, of which we are very proud.
  5. Push boundaries. We want to prepare our students internationally and interculturally. We give them the opportunity to gain experience across borders. We also open our doors for students from all over the world and welcome teachers and academic staff from abroad.
  6. Choose quality. Constant quality assurance and improvement is an integral part of our culture and we communicate about it openly. We are proud of the level of our university.

Ghent University sees the quality of education as an internal self-evaluation process, in which faculties and programs compare the goals they have set themselves to the achieved results and adjust the policy accordingly. The portfolios constitute an important link in this process. The achieved results are based on quantitative and qualitative information from relevant stakeholders (students, teachers, professional field, international experts, alumni, etc.).The ‘peer learning visits’, the yearly quality meeting and the Education Quality Office (‘OKB’) make sure the PDCA cycle is closed at various policy levels and help to keep the improvement policy sharp.

A detailed description of how Ghent University is constantly paying attention to quality assurance and quality culture can be found in the Ghent University Conduct of Educational Quality Assurance (ERGO).

 

Quality of this study programme

This quality assurance system provides information on the assets, the strengths and the points for improvement for every study programme. A summary for this study programme can be found below:

 

Assets of the study programme

  1. Interdisciplinary education: Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary domain located at the cross roads of computer science, statistics and molecular biology. Having sufficient knowledge of each of these different domains is a prerequisite for any bioinformatician. The unique asset of the master in bioinformatics is that it provides this knowledge of different domains while maintaining a trade-off between generalization and specialization. The two-year master program (120 ECTS-credits) offers three tracks (in three faculties) designed for students with a different background i.e. a bioscience engineering track, an engineering track and a systems biology track. Each track consists of (1) a generalization module in which students are introduced in the disciplines complementary to the ones they studied in their pre-education. This allows students to understand the interdisciplinary context in which they will need to work. (2) A specialization package in which the disciplines of their pre-education are further elaborated and (3) a common module in which all students of the different tracks/backgrounds follow bioinformatics related courses together.
  2. Because of the trade-off between generalization and specialization, (1) the master respects the primary domain of interest of the student (which is usually reflected by his/her bachelor degree). The goal is not to turn an engineer into a biologist or vice versa, but to provide sufficient domain knowledge to be able to understand the intricacies of the bioinformatics domain. (2) The master allows training students with well-defined and different profiles (bioinformatics scientist, bioinformatics engineer) and herewith meets the needs of the work field.
  3. Bioinformatics is a fast evolving domain, in which one has to continuously anticipate novel technologies in molecular biology and computer sciences. Next to an overview of state-of-the-art bioinformatics tools and concepts, the program aims at offering students enough theoretical background to allow them to keep up with future developments in the domain. Through examples, students learn to be critical towards results of an analysis, to reflect about the methodology and to be creative in problem solving. They learn the importance of lifelong learning, problem solving and having a critical mindset.
  4. Through projects, students are trained in acquiring the essential programming and interdisciplinary communication skills.
  5. The professional domain is actively involved in the master through master projects, internships and courses (capita selecta). This allows students to become familiar with the way bioinformatics is applied in the industry, in research or governmental institutes.

 

Quality assurance: strengths

  1. Exclusivity rule: Only students that have a sufficient background are allowed to the specialization courses. As a result, the master uses very strict admittance rules so that a high educational level of each of the different tracks is guaranteed.
  2. The strong modularity guarantees that each student has a sufficient number of courses that extend both the width and depth of his/her knowledge and skills (specialization and generalization), e.g. engineering, bioengineering versus sciences, biology, etc. Each graduate thus has a well-defined profile which is important towards visibility and branding of his/her profile on the market.
  3. Our professional staff consists of motivated lecturers from different faculties with excellent research records in either the domain of bioinformatics (ranging from applied bioinformatics in microbial, plant and human domain to method and tool development) or in related domains (e.g. computer science). This guarantees research based teaching and interdisciplinary point of views.
  4. The program reflects the multidisciplinary character of the work field, stimulating students and lecturers to think outside of the box to develop and apply creative solutions.
  5. The Master is supported and organized by the study program commission, the exam commission and the curriculum commission. Moreover, feedback is collected on a regular basis from the different stakeholders (students, lecturers, work field, alumni, etc.) to further improve the program. This guarantees a strict control on the quality of the master (conformity with three independent faculties and input of different stakeholders).

 

Quality assurance: focus points with action plan

  1. Internationalization & PR to increase the recognition of the Master at an international level. This starts with attracting excellent international students and requires improved branding and the installation of smoother and uniform admission procedures and, on the longer term a more elaborate English preparatory program.
  2. This is a young master program at Ghent University. By collecting feedback from and organizing meetings with the different stakeholders (a.o. students, lecturers, representatives of the work field) on a regular base, the program is continuously tuned and improved.
  3. General courses should provide a sufficient learning effect for students with different background and learning styles (e.g. engineers vs. biologists). This requires increased attention for both remediation and differentiation. Steps have already been taken for specific courses to provide students with an overview of expected background knowledge, and pointers to appropriate documents for self-study. Differentiation involves the design of dedicated tasks for students with different backgrounds.