Profile 2016: a new perspective for the Humanities

18 november 2014

Profile 2016 contains a proposal for the Faculty of Humanities’s new profile as envisioned for the years ahead.

(This is a summary of the document Profiel 2016, published in Dutch for staff at the Faculty of Humanities)

Though concerns regarding the financial sustainability of the Faculty's current range of study programmes form the immediate background to this proposal, the document also provides answers to a number of serious questions in relation to the quality of research and education, the appeal of the Faculty's study programmes to students from the Netherlands and abroad, and the vulnerable position of smaller study programmes.

First version

The first version of Profile 2016, which will be a focus of debate within the Faculty over the next few weeks, contains various scenarios of which elements have been elaborated on by way of example. The document is based on the assumption that fundamental reform of both the Bachelor's and Master's phases is inevitable. The years' long policy of downsizing through ‘across-the-board cuts’ has proven to be a dead end, since it results in a deterioration in quality of a large number of mostly smaller study programmes, an unacceptable rise in work pressure and an erosion of the size and quality of disciplinary teams.

Two scenarios

The first version of this Profile 2016 restructuring proposal fleshes out two scenarios with respect to Bachelor's education at the Faculty: the creation of a liberal arts college and the establishment of Bachelor's schools. Both scenarios are, however, based on the same points of departure:

  • a broadening of the first-year curriculum;
  • the introduction of majors in the second and third years, but not at expense of the degree of specialisation possible in the current curriculum;
  • the transfer of language acquisition education to an Amsterdam Centre for Languages that caters not only to students with a specific language profile, but also to students from other study programmes and faculties.

With respect to the Master's phase, a radical redefinition of the programmes is proposed combined with linking their education and research, - particularly but not exclusively - in the Research Master's programmes, which themselves will be linked directly to the Faculty's Research schools and a number of joint programmes with other universities.

We wish to emphasise that we are presenting this first version as a proposal. Nevertheless, the budget cuts that the Faculty must implement allow us no choice but to consider it seriously. The Faculty Board therefore feels that the scenarios outlined for the Bachelor's phase set the boundaries within which we should operate. Accordingly, the decision to broaden the first-year curriculum is not in question, as is the decision to redefine the Master's programmes.

Discussions and definitive version 

In the weeks ahead, the proposal will be discussed in meetings with programme directors, research directors, department chairs, the Faculty Works Council and the Faculty Student Council. Discussions will also take place with the UvA's Executive Board. One of the aims of these various discussions is to arrive at a definitive document that we expect to be able to adopt early next year, when the consequences of this restructuring for the Faculty's staff and finances should also become clear.

To clarify these potential consequences in the shortest possible term, we are setting up a special committee which will assess the current plans in terms of their impact on staff and finances (the actual costs of implementing the plans). This policy document is provided with a supplementary memorandum explaining further the remit of this committee.

The Faculty Board realises that the restructuring process outlined above will prove to be an extremely complex and, in some cases, painful one. Nevertheless, we hope and anticipate that these plans will also be a source of new energy and creativity and that we as a Faculty community are strong enough to forge a joint future together.

Gepubliceerd door  Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen