Master of Science in Aquaculture

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. Research-embedded approach: since 1991, the programme offers training on state-of-the-art aquaculture knowledge thanks to the broad base of in-house research excellence acquired by lecturers of the UGent Aquaculture R&D Consortium, and by contributions from a series of invited experts from renown European aquaculture institutes.
  2. International dimension: our team has successfully run numerous aquaculture education and research projects on all continents for the past 30 years. The strong international dimension of the programme is reflected by the cosmopolitan student intake. The learning path also offers opportunities for an inspiring international experience through the partnership with Stellenbosch University (South-Africa) and Can Tho University (Vietnam) as well as internships and/or master dissertation work in one of our many international partners in Africa, Europe, Asia or Latin-America.
  3. Multidisciplinary character: aquaculture is a relatively young, diverse and dynamic industry, highly depending on innovation in its various disciplines. This programme combines a thorough teaching on fundamental aspects (biology, statistics, physiology, ecology, …) with an in-depth research-based training in most recent advances in specialized aquaculture aspects (health management, aquatic resource management, microbial management).
  4. Tailored didactic methods for knowledge transfer: the programme features a wide range of traditional and modern didactic tools chosen in function of maximal efficiency for transfer knowledge and skills. Besides classroom teaching (about 35%), courses rely on guided self-study, practical exercises, study visits and excursions, peer-to-peer teaching, role play, etcetera.
  5. Applicability: IMAQUA prepares its students for successful careers at the highest level in European and international aquaculture research and industry as well as in policy-making. This is substantiated by the achievements and profiles of our alumni.

 

Quality assurance: strengths

  1. Preparatory course: we offer students the opportunity to participate in BePREP, a preparatory summer school prior to the academic year. The BePREP summer school combines refresher courses on basic themes (mathematics, chemistry, statistics) with introductory sessions on student life in Ghent/Belgium, administrative issues, cultural competencies, basic ICT and laboratory skills. Last but not least, the programme builds a sense of community among international students at our faculty as well as with its student supporting staff and fellow Flemish students.
  2. Staff approachability: the relatively small group of students (around 20) engenders a low student/staff ration. All involved staff is very approachable, both teaching staff regarding academic issues as well as administrative, technical and other supporting staff regarding any practical problem or issue a student can encounter. Students can interact with the staff in both a formal and informal way to discuss research, as well as academic and practical matters related to studying in Belgium.
  3. Student involvement: students and assisting staff actively contribute to quality control of the program. Yearly (anonymous) student assessment per teaching staff is compulsory, feedback is communicated to the lecturer and to the programme director. Recurring substandard evaluation leads to corrective actions. IMAQUA lectures are typically assessed at least as “good” but predominantly as “very good” or “excellent”. The programme’s education commission meets on a monthly basis to discuss matters related to the quality and organisation of the program. Student representatives are at least 1/3 of the members and have voting rights.
  4. Expert teaching staff: through its ground-breaking research on larviculture and novel microbial management tools, our team has earned worldwide recognition in its discipline. Lecturers in the program are international leading researchers in aquaculture or related fields, are engaged and motivated and come from a wide variety of disciplines.
  5. Student support: the programme organizers, faculty and university provide a range of supporting services and staff for students such as a faculty ombudsperson, welcome days, social events, a buddy system, student counselling, career advice, alumni services, university medical and psychological service, etcetera.

 

Quality assurance: focus points with action plan

  1. Albeit not mandatory, the internships are considered as an integral part of the master program. As the internship is believed to be a unique opportunity to gain professional expertise, build networks, learn to apply acquired knowledge, and sharpen interpersonal and other generic skills, students are strongly stimulated to pursue internship options.
  2. The heavy study load has repeatedly been mentioned in student assessments. Written exams that are still the most common form of evaluation result in a study load skewed to the exam periods while the frequent assignments also burden students in the course of the academic year. Lecturers are advised to put more weight on assignment results and less on the final exam as to achieve a better balance towards permanent evaluation.
  3. Students are typically requesting more hands-on training. The inauguration of new facilities in September 2016 already allowed more own experimental work by students. To further meet the students’ appeal, a concept for an ‘experimental playground’ is examined, meaning that students can freely use experimental set-up for research questions raised in agreement with a tutor.