International Master of Science in Marine Biological Resources (Applied Marine Ecology and Conservation )

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. The International Master of Science in Marine Biological Resources (IMBRSea) is the largest international marine Master programme globally. It’s a flagship educational programme, closely linked to the EMBRC Research Infrastructure, and of national and pan-European strategic and societal importance in marine biology, including biodiversity and ecosystem function, biogeochemistry and global change, marine products and resources.
  2. The programme merges two fields of sciences traditionally separated: biology of marine organisms and environmental studies with subjects in marine policy and planning. The integrated and interdisciplinary approach and research on the sustainable use of marine biological resources prepares students for the rapidly evolving demands and challenges (e.g. climate change) of the blue bioeconomy.
  3. The diverse student population (more than 53 different nationalities) constructs an individual curriculum by choosing one of the five specialization tracks: Marine food production, Management of living marine resources, Applied marine ecology and conservation, Marine environment health and Global ocean change. In each track, students can choose between several universities offering a set of courses fitting to their personal interests and aligned with their future employment prospect.
  4. IMBRSea offers innovative (online) training and guidance, including transferable skills (e.g. scientific diving, digital photography, etc.), presentations at symposia and internships in industry. Through mandatory mobility, students learn to critically reflect on the geographic and socio-cultural/economic and professional environments of different universities.
  5. Graduates from the programme are flexible, competitive and integrative workforces who experienced different learning environments (e.g. site visits at NGO’s, internships in industry, etc.). By extensive practical and laboratory training and career development, they have been exposed to different ecosystems, cultures and languages so they are able to tackle holistic ocean issues.

 

Quality assurance: strengths

  1. The programme (since 2008 - EMBC) already passed several accreditations and integrated the recommendations from these accreditations in the design of the renewed version of the programme (IMBRSea) in 2017. This programme was co-designed by nine Universities and takes into account the needs of the dynamic industry, on an extensive profile study of graduates and on surveys with stakeholders.
  2. A quality assurance committee monitors the programme offered by the nine leading European partner universities in the field of marine sciences. Several governing bodies meet regularly and the coordination office (located at Ghent University) is responsible for the daily operation and communication. The programme uses a cyclical process of review and evaluation (e.g. annual SWOT-analysis) and validates the formal and informal feedback they receive from all stakeholders.
  3. The programme uses a variety of student-activating teaching (e.g. YouTube channel with MOOC’s, training portal, flipped classroom, etc.) and transparent evaluation practices (e.g. peer-to-peer evaluation, portfolio, etc.). Entrepreneurship, participation, critical awareness and creativity are encouraged and students are guided in achieving the learning outcomes (e.g. through webinars with FAQ) while closely monitoring the study load.
  4. There is a strong collaboration with a broad network of partners in academia, policy and industry; supported by a large network of Marine Research Institutes (for example the EMBRC research infrastructure – www.embrc.eu) that offer multi- and cross-disciplinary sea-going practical training and authentic experiences for students.
  5. The programme has a very high success rate (e.g. 97% of the students graduate in two years (AJ 2016-17)). Through mobility of students and (guest)lecturers and at the annual job fair students meet alumni and industry and build international networks. Alumni keep in touch through social media (Facebook and LinkedIn) and the website. Graduates are competitive in industry, government and research (e.g. between 25 à 30% of all master dissertations are published).

 

Quality assurance: focus points with action plan

  1. The programme aims at increasing the number of partner universities, teachers mobility and further develop with all stakeholders a joint vision on assessment (e.g. interim feedback, criteria) and strategy to communicate the vision and learning outcomes publically.
  2. The (growing number of) students (around 100 in 2017-18) will continue to participate in local communities and economies through internships and thesis research placements. This will further promote collaborative and cross-disciplinary approaches and networking experiences.
  3. The programme aspires to design the roadmap for marine education and training by further developing and implementing online tools to recruit, select and guide students in tailored study pathways, to co-create an innovative learning path for online thesis preparation and to develop teasers of lectures for wider audiences. These innovations will be evaluated in educational research projects.

   

An extended analysis of the education policy and programme quality assurance can be found in this report.