Master of Science in Physical Land Resources (Land Resources 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. Top rated programme: in recent programme evaluations by students at the faculty of Bioscience Engineering, our programme was ranked first. We also received one of the highest scores among programmes organised at Bioscience Engineering faculties in Flanders in the most recent external audit by an international visitation commission. A recent alumni survey showed that the great majority of alumni were very satisfied with the programme and with the opportunities it created for their current jobs.
  2. Unique and international programme: we offer a two-years (120 credits) interfaculty and interuniversity programme that combines in-depth knowledge on soil materials from an agricultural, hydrological and geotechnical perspective, which is rather unique. We are one of the few programmes worldwide with such a strong focus on soils in relation to climate change, food and water insecurity, environmental degradation and engineering applications and thus addressing directly and indirectly most of the new 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The programme is taught in English and is followed by nationals from all continents, resulting in a unique international experience.
  3. Tailor-made curriculum: students have a great flexibility in developing their curriculum to their personnel needs and interests. 80 out of the total 120 credits are to be achieved by taking up elective courses and activities. This includes 5 credits to write up a project proposal and 30 credits for the master dissertation, both on a research topic of choice. Additionally, students have the choice to follow a preparatory summer school.
  4. From theory to laboratory to practice: we offer an attractive, balanced and coherent programme with a wide range of different teaching methods including field work, excursions, laboratory work, exercise sessions, computer workshops, group discussions, microteaching, scientific communication and classroom lectures. Our students really appreciate this applied and practical approach to teaching, in combination with a solid academic and theoretical formation. Attention is not only given to the latest technological developments and equipment, but also to low-tech alternative solutions encouraging self-reliance; the programme thus addresses candidates from both the ‘North’ and ‘South’.
  5. Research-based education: specifically for 1st year students, guided visits to the research units of all lecturers involved in the program are organised in the first semester. Students thus get a full picture of all relevant research activities and the existing infrastructure in those units. They are trained to write a research project proposal and to present and defend this to a jury and their peers. An important part of the program is allocated to the master dissertation. Students start collecting data and conduct field and lab work between semester 2 and 3 (summer holiday). In the 2nd year, students avail of the full 2nd semester for all the work related to the master dissertation. Students thus get the opportunity to be involved as junior researchers in cutting-edge research.

 

Quality assurance: strengths

  1. Motivated and engaged lecturers: our highly-qualified, internationally oriented staff specialised in various disciplines related to physical land resources, ensures that both teaching and research closely reflect topical issues in the ‘North’ and ‘South’. Lecturers are internationally renowned experts in their discipline.
  2. Readily addressable staff: our programme promotes an open-door policy and open one-to-one communication between teaching staff and students. Students are thus not numbers but individual members of the ‘physical land resources’ family, which they highly value.
  3. Fair evaluation and examination policy: our programme employs a wide variety of evaluation and examination methods. They aim not only at evaluating the learning process and competences of the students, but also serve as a learning means for both teaching staff and students, i.e. to adjust and improve their teaching and learning process where necessary. Students highly appreciate the clear communication about the examination forms and content so that they can prepare themselves optimally for the exams. Due attention is given to feedback and feedforward.
  4. Highly valued didactical approach: apart from theoretical and practical knowledge, our programme offers several skills inherently tied to a Master of Science, such as the ability to identify a problem, formulate a hypothesis, test it through experiments of proper design, and report results and findings to peers and a more general public. Another, very important asset is the ability to think analytically and synthetically, while still being creative – all part of a problem-solving mentality. Students gain all the knowledge and skills needed to build a successful career as a scientist.
  5. Very active alumni policy: through the extensive alumni network that has been built and maintained throughout over fifty years, the programme is able to adjust and modify its content and learning outcomes according to the demands of the professional field. Alumni are involved in the programme as co-supervisors of master dissertations and internships, and give guest lectures.

 

Quality assurance: focus points with action plan

  1. Attention to entrepreneurship: as our programme focuses primarily on scientific and technical knowledge, skills and attitudes, less attention is provided to entrepreneurship. However, students have to use some entrepreneurial skills when e.g. calculating a budget within their project proposal. They can also take up an entrepreneurship-related course within their curriculum (free choice).
  2. Study load: about half of the students perceive the study load of the 1st year as heavy, though they also consider it worth the credits. We realise that we offer an intensive programme, but in the end, most students and alumni do appreciate this. The number of assignments given by the lecturers in different course units will be monitored so as to optimize the study load in the first master year.
  3. Regional development of existing networks: steps are undertaken and will be further investigated to consolidate formalized strategic partnerships with alumni and their institutes, primarily in the ‘South’. This might promote additional mobility of teaching staff and students.