HZ is the first of the 37 universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands to receive an agreement from the Minister of Education, Culture and Science on its Quality Plan in 2019 within the framework of the Quality Agreements.

The majority of the financial resources that will become available will be distributed among the HZ study programmes. The proceeds that were created because of the abolition of the basic grant and the introduction of the study advance, will be distributed among the educational institutions in the period 2019-2024. The task is to invest them in improving the quality of education. In consultation with employees, students, the council of the university, the management, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board, the HZ has drawn up the HZ Quality Agreements. This plan describes how the HZ wants to use the means and which goals this involves. The choices made are closely aligned with the 2018-2021 institutional plan, so the quality agreements are embedded in the current course.

Substansive report central projects

A part of the funding is available centrally. Employees and students can submit proposals for this part of the study advance funds. Project applications must be aimed at improving the quality of education and must be in line with one of the following themes: 1) Strengthening the HZ community and student participation and 2) Strengthening HZ as a learning and collaborative organization. Two application rounds take place each year. Below is a description of the allocated projects:

Projects assigned and completed in 2019

Lecturers of the Social Work, Hbo-Nurse, Pedagogy and Primary School Teacher study programmes set themselves a goal of not only working together more with colleagues from the various programmes, but also to make students more aware of the need for good cooperation with other (upcoming) professionals in the broad social domain during their studies. For this reason, the lecturers of the four programmes took the initiative to organize an interprofessional festival on 11 October 2019 for all the over 400 first-year students of the four programmes within the social domain and for all the lecturers involved in these programmes. The aim of the festival was to let students from different disciplines work together on a case study in a pleasant environment. This way was a way of getting students to know each other right at the beginning of their study career and create awareness of the need to work together as a future professional. During the festival, students worked in interdisciplinary groups on assignments around a real-life case. Experts from the different professions were present during this day to coach the groups and share their experiences within this interdisciplinary collaboration. The day ended with drinks.

Evaluation of the festival showed that both students and staff were enthusiastic about the organization and content of the day. In 2020, a follow-up project was started under the name “Interprofessional collaboration”.

Student: “Idea is great. Get to know other study programmes and see the common ground.”

Lecturer: “It was inspiring to hear that students said that they didn’t have enough time to get to know each other and each other’s programmes. They want to hear more from each other and learn from each other!"

Projects assigned in 2019 and continued in 2020

The project “What's in game” focuses on the development of a game (a controlled, authentic and entertaining learning environment) to train international/global competencies of HZ students. The project investigates how the design of a serious game can increase the effectiveness of the international HZ community and support the development of ‘globally skilled’ professionals. The game results can be used to evaluate the objective changes in student performance in international situations. The results can also provide insight into the changes in students’ beliefs and attitudes in the four dimensions of cultural interaction. The long-term goal is to make a substantial contribution to the world view of students based on the game, while also creating a greater sense of community between students.

In 2020, the game pilot was fully developed in the Moodle platform under the name Culture Up! (available via the link: cultureup.hz.nl). The pilot group consisted of twenty civil engineering students. Interviews showed that players were positive about making the game a mandatory part of the study programme. The game allowed the players to think about different cultures and the importance of global competencies for their profession.

The most valuable thing was that you learn a lot about interacting with people. You learn about other cultures, but also about your own culture." – Joost de Jonge (graduate student Civil Engineering)

“It is an educational game that gives students more certainty to step outside their comfort zone. In this game you literally step outside HZ and learn how things are in other places in the world. It just gives that nudge to discover the world.”

Reaching other students and departments is still a challenge partly because of the corona measures. There are ambitions to distribute the game internally and externally, namely by drawing up HZ instructions and guidelines for use of the game (internally) and by drawing up a research paper on the subject (externally).

The initiative came from the already existing HZ Sport department to further strengthen the HZ Community. In particular, students who live in student rooms, including the international students, need to be part of a social community outside school hours. HZ Sport inventoried the needs of students and then drew up an activity programme in coordination with these students, aimed at the vitality, social well-being and personality development of our students. For example, the number of sports activities was expanded and events have been organized, including in the HZ Sport Café. Examples of activities are Yoga and Zumba, a HZ Fifa tournament and Monkey cages in the HZ atrium.

The Leisure Lab is an open learning environment in which students work on a variety of projects. This project fulfils the desire to further integrate education and research and to train students to become ‘design thinkers’. The pilot, which is aimed at making education more flexible, makes a valuable contribution to educational innovation within HZ. The projects within the Leisure Impact Lab are designed by students and have a close relationship with the Coastal Tourism Knowledge Centre, The Healthy Region Lectorate and the Tourism Management programme.

At the end of 2020, a new component was added to the Leisure Lab by means of The Garage. The Garage is a project agency, innovation studio and workshop in which students work on projects, mainly as an alternative to internships and minors that could not or had difficulty to continue due to the corona measures. Furthermore, several interns were recruited in 2020. One of the ambitions for 2021 is to seek cooperation with other programmes more emphatically.

Projects awarded in 2020

HZ Student Community aims at connecting national and international students, by offering different activities at HZ Cult with a more international character. The content of the programme is always tailored to the corona measures that are in place at that moment. For example, a ‘Christmas Movie Night’ was organized in the HZ atrium for 50 national and international students (with beanbags at 1.5 meters) and an online ‘Cluedo Game Night’ took place, in which the game was completely tailored to HZ. Due to the activities of HZ Student Community, students have felt connected to the school and to their fellow students. As feedback on the Christmas Movie Night, it was said that this was one of the most enjoyable activities of recent years.

HZ Student Community aims to bring national and international students into contact with and to offer the opportunity to meet new people. The Community does this by organizing low-threshold activities. With the funds from the Quality Agreements, activities have been organized such as a “Sinterklaas game”, game night, film night, city walk, pub quiz and various lectures. The reactions of the students are very positive: they feel connected to the school and their fellow students. "This is the most fun activity I've done in my college days so far". The activities took place during the time of corona measures, giving students the opportunity to meet despite all limitations.

Together with the ICT programme, the Data Science research centre has laid a foundation for HZ-wide teaching materials in the field of Data Science. The aim of the project is to professionalize the teaching materials, so that it can be used appropriate HZ wide at the requested level. In 2020, the development of these teaching materials has started, which should ultimately result in a book and supporting digital teaching materials.

The NeurUX project aims at making better use of eye tracking hardware and software for the entire HZ and users outside the organization. The budget from the quality agreements has been used for the purchase of hardware and software and wearable eye trackers, among other things to expand the research possibilities. 80 students from the Commercial Economics and Communication programmes have gained experience with the hardware and software. In 10 teams, they convinced clients from the region and beyond to participate in research assignments. In addition, teams of students themselves from the region and beyond have convinced ten clients to participate in the research assignments. A graduation study has also been carried out in which eye tracking research was applied.

SDG Accelerator is a programme consisting of a wide range of activities, focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. SDG Accelerator aims to contribute to broadening academic competencies and broadening the social education of students. The project also aims to increase the knowledge of the SDGs among employees, among other things so that they integrate in the study programmes more quickly. The programme activities include challenges, events, workshops, discussions, masterclasses, courses, location visits and mini-projects. The programme started at the end of 2020 and will continue until December 2021.

The project Interdisciplinary Collaboration aims to introduce students to each other, the professional practice and interprofessional cooperation on current issues in the society. The focus is mainly on students of the HZ domains of Health, Education & Wellbeing. For example, in collaboration with the SDG Accelerator project, the overarching project SDG Events was created. These are events with a guest speaker who inspires the students to enter into dialogue with each other, linked to one or more goals from the SDGs.

In 2019, the HZ Solar Boat Team founded the student community Sustainable Technological Innovations On Water (DTIW). The project is aimed at the further development of the HZ solar boat and the creation of a vibrant innovation community consisting of students, lecturers, associate professors and alumni. The solar boat community is built around the themes of energy transition, biobased materials and water issues. The integration of these three substantive themes requires a lot of knowledge and innovation. This project therefore strengthens interdisciplinary cooperation within HZ and thus stimulates innovation in the field of water, energy and biobased materials. The project also stimulates the further development of an entrepreneurial attitude among students and competencies in the field of (interdisciplinary) cooperation. It is worth noting that this project proposal was submitted by a student.

In 2020, DTIW broadened its portfolio, both on the basis of project execution and participating parties. Evoke Detachering, for example, has joined as a partner and many study programmes participated. DTIW has offered internships to students of Business Administration, Civil Engineering and the Associate degrees Academy. Students also follow the minor set up by DTIW. Students have been working on a Sensor drone and a start has been made on the design of a biobased hull.

In the HZ Community Programmatic Tests, courses that get started or are working with the concept of Programmatic Testing join forces. These are the Bachelor programmes in Sports Science, HBO-V, Pabo, GPCM, and AD programme Food & Gastronomy. The goal here is to be a sparring partner for each other, to learn from ‘mistakes’ made, and to strengthen your own curriculum design with far-reaching insights. The Education, Research, and Quality Department is in line with this to provide substantive support, to ask critical questions, to give feedback, and to be the linking pin to examples and experts outside HZ. In this way, a community of practice-based programmatic tests is formed together and a feedback culture is created (practice what you preach). The additional objective is to document and make shareable the insights gained, so that other study programmes within (and outside) HZ can also learn from this.

The aim of the Project Pilot Culture Within Domains is to take students out of their comfort zone and to make them work on their personal development by organizing mandatory (free) cultural activities. These activities are linked to the educational curriculum, where the pilot focuses on the programmes of the domain Health, Education & Wellbeing.

What motives do graduates have to settle in the Zeeland region? That is the central question in the study 'Student bonding ZiS_Vestigingklimaat' by HZ University of Applied Sciences and Scalda. In 2021, the Healthy Region research group will do research why students do or do not stay in Zeeland after their studies. This is done through, among other things, conversations and discussions with (groups of) (former) students and via questionnaires. The results provide insight into the choices of students and thus also into the quality of life in Zeeland among this target group. The province has made a subsidy available for this research, the municipalities of Middelburg and Vlissingen are participating, as well as the HZ, which co-finances through its quality funds.

Projects with structural allocation

In addition to the above-assigned projects, the University of Applied Sciences Council and the Executive Board have jointly agreed that a number of projects receive structural annual study advance funds during the planning period, without having to make separate project applications. These concern the following projects:

The HZ Green Office was officially launched on 10 October 2019, the annual “Sustainability Education Day”. HZ Green Office focuses on processing the student community by organizing activities and by developing a learning community around various sustainability themes. The Green Office connects students from different programmes and nationalities and thus makes an important contribution to strengthening the HZ Community. In addition, this project also makes an important contribution to the anchoring of the Sustainable Development Goals within our university of applied sciences.

HZ Green Office organizes weekly clean-up actions along Zeeland beaches and waters, among others, with parties such as Doe Mee Verlos de Zee, Rijkswaterstaat, Stichting Strandexploitatie Veere, companies and municipalities. These actions are combined with research into the quantities and origin of litter. Other projects include waste separation and reduction, the ‘Student Garden’, carpooling, stimulating cycling, and electric driving, and various other projects aimed at a sustainable learning and living environment. An overview of all projects and events can be found on hzgreenoffice.nl.

The quality agreements spending plan has stated the ambition that HZ wants to intensify the care of students. HZ notes that there is an increasing need for mental guidance and support from students in its student population. The availability of study advance resources has ensured that the two HZ student psychologists have been able to be retained. The student psychologists help students with psychosocial problems that can affect their studies. The most common symptoms are depression, fear of failure and personality problems. Personality problems include insecurity, low self-esteem, perfectionism and obsessive behaviour, as well as personality disorders. Furthermore, anxiety, stress, motivational problems and problems with graduation are common. The student psychologists offer first-line help, in case of complex problems they refer students to a second-line facility. The student psychologists are part of the national consultation group of student psychologists. Furthermore, both are members of the Netherlands Institute of Psychologists and act according to the professional code.

An important intention from the quality agreements spending plan is the creation of a regional ambition plan in collaboration with fellow institutions in the education column (vo, mbo, hbo). The aim of this regional ambition plan is to improve the connection between vo, mbo and hbo, so that students make more conscious choices for a further education, have a better picture of the field of work for which they are trained and can study more successfully in hbo (career orientation and guidance).

The HZ Honours Programme is in line with the ambition from the quality agreements to give students more opportunities to participate in talent programmes. The HZ Honours Programme is an extra-curricular programme for second- and third-year students. The programme is question-driven and focuses on the personal development of the student and a complex world issue. Students realize interdisciplinary projects within the programme, carry out research in an international context and thereby contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. The insights are used in the development of challenging education within the HZ study programmes. The full budget of €50,000 goes to the students.