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1 September 2005 Public Administration

2 Quality Assurance Netherlands Universities (QANU) Catharijnesingel 56 P.O. Box RA Utrecht The Netherlands Phone: +31 (0) Fax: +31 (0) Internet: Quality assessment of education and research in Dutch universities was until recently carried out by the Quality Assurance department of the VSNU. In 2004 the activities of this department were transferred to QANU, which assumes responsibility for completion of the VSNU activities initiated before QANU Text and numerical material from this publication may be reproduced in print, by photocopying or by any other means with the permission of QANU if the source is mentioned. 2 QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration

3 Table of contents Foreword 5 Preface 7 Part I General Part 9 0. Introduction General remarks Domain-specific framework of reference Comparative overview of the Public Administration programmes in the Netherlands 33 Part II Reports on the degree courses assessed by the committee 51 Report on the degree courses offered by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 53 Report on the degree courses offered by the University of Twente 81 Report on the degree courses offered by the Erasmus University Rotterdam 115 Report on the degree courses offered by the Open Universiteit 145 Report on the degree courses offered by the Radboud University Nijmegen 167 Report on the degree courses offered by Leiden University 195 Report on the degree courses offered by Tilburg University 223 Report on the degree courses offered by Utrecht University 249 Appendices 279 Appendix 1: Curricula vitae of the members of the assessment committee 281 Appendix 2: Programme for the site visits 283 Appendix 3: Intake and success rates 285 QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 3

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5 FOREWORD This report is part of the quality assessment of university degree programmes in the Netherlands. The purpose of this report is to present a reliable picture of the results of the programmes submitted for this review, to give feedback to the internal quality assessment of the organisations concerned, and to serve as the basis for accreditation of the bachelor and master programmes by the Netherlands Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). The report shows that the faculties have put much effort into the implementation of the bachelor/master structure (Bologna Declaration 1999) which aims at enhancing the comparability between the systems of higher education in Europe and the global competitiveness of the institutions of higher education. The report is written in English because some of the programmes also apply for accreditation by the European Association for Public Administration Accreditation (EAPAA), and because of the international composition of the Committee. QANU aims to ensure independent, unbiased, critically constructive assessments using identical quality criteria as far as possible, while taking specific circumstances into account. The Review Committee for Public Administration has fulfilled its tasks with great dedication and under difficult circumstances of transition. The degree programmes were evaluated in a thorough and careful manner and within a well-considered frame of reference. We expect the judgements and recommendations will be taken into careful consideration by the course providers and the management of the faculties and of the universities concerned. We thank the Chairman and Members of the Review Committee for their willingness to participate in this assessment and for the dedication with which they carried out this task. We also thank the staff of the departments for their carefully prepared documentation and for their co-operation during the assessments. Dr. Jan G.F. Veldhuis Chairman of the QANU-Board Mr. Chris J. Peels QANU-Director QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 5

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7 PREFACE Quality assurance and accountability are important issues in the academic and professional fields of public administration. Course providers in this field are convinced that it is necessary to constantly reflect on the mission, the objectives and the final qualifications of the university programmes. They report on a regular basis on the programmes they provide and on the processes which enable and facilitate these programmes. Quality assurance is primarily the responsibility of the course providers themselves. An assessment committee can play an additional role in that process from an external point of view. The assessment stimulates the course providers to clearly motivate their mission and objectives. At the same time, an assessment provides a good opportunity to balance the efforts that have been put into the degree courses and the results that have been achieved against each other. For the members of the assessment committee, it was a fascinating and very instructive experience to become closely involved with the system of quality assurance, by means of the self assessment reports and the numerous interviews which it had the opportunity to hold with the boards of the faculties, the staff members contributing to the degree courses, students, graduates, student advisers and members of the administrative and support staff. It is justified to pay tribute to the departments because of their continuous efforts to provide the committee with information and documentation. The members of the committee retain very good memories of the many interesting contacts they had during the site visits. They highly appreciate the fact that the interviews allowed for open and honest discussions of mutual views and argumentations. Generally speaking, it is fair to say that the degree courses in the Netherlands have closely followed the developments in the field. From an international, comparative perspective, the position occupied by the degree courses in the Netherlands ranges from favourable to prominent. The members of the committee repeatedly asked themselves on which period the assessment should focus. The most recent academic years were clearly transitional years. The old, undivided degree courses are disappearing. The faculties now offer bachelor degree courses, which are or will be followed by master degree courses (the last one of which will start in the academic year ). As a result, the task of the committee was not only to assess the degree courses that had been offered in the last few years and the existing system of internal quality assurance. The assessment aimed at accreditation of the new or revised degree courses was even more important. For the committee members, the assessment turned into an exercise of looking and thinking backward and forward at the same time. Because the bachelor and master degree courses are designed on the basis of a new scheme, these approaches are not necessarily complementary. In the meantime, QANU became independent of the VSNU and established new routines. It adopted a new working method aimed at fulfilling the requirements and procedures for accreditation as closely as possible. These developments were not just challenges for the committee, they also resulted in unwanted delays in the production and completion of the final report. Finally, it is appropriate to thank in particular the members of the committee. From the inaugural meeting, in early 2004, to the completion of the final report, the committee members devoted themselves to their tasks with great dedication and a strong feeling of responsibility. Whether it came to the elaboration of the domain-specific framework of reference, the site QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 7

8 visits or the discussion of the reports, the co-operation within the committee was always pleasant and useful. We highly appreciate the contributions of our colleagues from abroad Larry O Toole and Lars Strömberg, of our Dutch colleagues Peter Bouhuijs (who also acted as vicechair of the committee) and Theo van der Krogt, from the representative of the professional field Ad Lutters and from the student members Arthur van Wijk and Lybrich Dubois. On behalf of the committee, I would also like to thank Roel Bennink and Sietze Looijenga (QANU). They fulfilled their tasks as secretaries with great effort, in circumstances which were difficult as a result of the transitions in the system of external quality assurance. The final result is to a large extent also their work. Leuven, 14 July 2005 Prof. Dr. Rudolf Maes, chairman of the committee 8 QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration

9 PART I: GENERAL PART QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 9

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11 0. Introduction In this report, the assessment committee Public Administration (in what follows: the committee) gives an account of its findings. The report consists of two parts: a general part and a part which contains the reports on the degree courses the committee assessed. The general part briefly describes the committee s task, its composition and its working methods. It also contains a description of the domain-specific framework of reference and a comparative overview of the degree courses taken into consideration. QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 11

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13 1. General remarks 1.1. The committee s task The task assigned to the committee was threefold. First of all, it had to assess the old, undivided four-year degree courses in public administration offered by eight universities. This assessment was based on the protocol Quality Assessment Made to Measure of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). Second, it had to carry out an additional assessment of the bachelor and master degree courses based on the undivided four-year degree courses. This assessment took place in accordance with the transitional agreement (overgangsregeling) agreed upon by the Dutch-Flemish accreditation organisation (NVAO) and the VSNU in May Thirdly, it was to carry out an assessment on the basis of the procedures for accreditation of the European Association for Public Administration Accreditation (EAPAA). The latter two parts of the committee s task were optional : it was up to the faculties offering the degree courses to decide whether they wanted to participate in this part of the assessment The composition of the committee The committee began its activities in January 2004, at a time when the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) was still responsible for the organisation and coordination of assessments of degree courses offered by universities. As a result, the committee was formally installed by the chairman of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), E.M. d Hondt. The following experts were appointed as members of the committee: Prof. dr. R. Maes, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium, chairman of the committee Dr. P.A.J. Bouhuijs, Maastricht University, vice-chairman of the committee L. Dubois, Utrecht University, student member Dr. T.P.W.M. van der Krogt, University of Twente, secretary general of EAPAA Mr. dr. A.H.A. Lutters, advisor and lecturer in Public Administration, representative of the professional field Prof. dr. L.J. O Toole, University of Georgia, USA Prof. dr. L. Strömberg, University of Göteborg, Sweden A.E. van Wijk, Leiden University, student member. Drs. R.D. Bennink and drs. S. Looijenga, QANU staff members, were appointed as secretaries of the committee. The curricula vitae of the committee members can be found in Appendix 1. Prof. Maes, dr. Bouhuijs, dr. Lutters and prof. O Toole participated in all the site visits of the committee. Because prof. O Toole has a formal link with the University of Twente (where he has a zero appointment or nulaanstelling for research purposes, he is not directly involved with any of the degree courses assessed by the committee), he did not participate actively in the discussions with representatives of the faculty, staff members and students, nor did he contribute to the assessment of the degree courses. Prof. Strömberg participated in the site visits to faculties which had applied for EAPAA accreditation. Dr. Van der Krogt attended the site visits to faculties which had no intention of acquiring such an accreditation. A. van Wijk acted as student member of the committee, but he was replaced by L. Dubois when the committee visited Leiden University. QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 13

14 1.3. The degree courses to be assessed by the committee The committee assessed eight four-year (old style) degree courses: seven degree courses Public Administration (in Dutch: Bestuurskunde, CROHO registration number: 6627), offered by Leiden University, Utrecht University, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the University of Twente, the Catholic University Nijmegen (as of 1 September 2004: Radboud University Nijmegen), Tilburg University and the Open Universiteit Nederland, and a degree course Political Science (Politicologie, CROHO registration number: 6606), offered by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Although the degree course offered by Utrecht University was formally registered under the name Bestuurskunde, it presented itself under the name Bestuurs- en Organisatiewetenschap (Public Administration and Organisation Science). In addition, the committee undertook additional assessments of seven bachelor degree courses and nine master degree courses. It assessed six bachelor degree courses Public Administration (in Dutch: Bestuurskunde, CROHO registration number: 56627), offered by Leiden University, Utrecht University, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the University of Twente, the Catholic University Nijmegen (as of 1 September 2004: Radboud University Nijmegen), and Tilburg University, and a degree course Governance and Organisation (in Dutch: Bestuur en Organisatie, CROHO registration number: 50007), offered by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. It also assessed four master degree courses Public Administration (in Dutch: Bestuurskunde, CROHO registration number: 66627), offered by Utrecht University, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Catholic University Nijmegen (as of 1 September 2004: Radboud University Nijmegen) and Tilburg University, three master degree courses Public Administration (no Dutch name, CROHO registration number: 60020), offered by Leiden University, the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the University of Twente, a master degree course Public Management and Policy (no Dutch name, CROHO registration number: 60091), offered by the Open Universiteit Nederland, and a master degree course European Studies (no Dutch name, CROHO registration number: 69303), offered by the University of Twente. Although the degree courses offered by Utrecht University are formally registered under the name Bestuurskunde, they present themselves under the name Bestuurs- en Organisatiewetenschap (Public Administration and Organisation Science). Five universities applied for the assessment aimed at acquiring accreditation by EAPAA for their degree courses: Leiden University, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the University of Twente and the Catholic University Nijmegen (as of 1 September 2004: Radboud University Nijmegen) Materials presented to the committee as a basis for the assessment In accordance with the assessment protocol Quality Assessment Made to Measure, the faculties offering the degree courses prepared self-assessment reports which mainly dealt with the fouryear degree courses. Some of these self-assessment reports already described the (plans for the) bachelor and master degree courses which gradually replaced the undivided degree courses. Most of the faculties prepared additional materials describing the structure and contents of the bachelor and master degree courses. In some cases, the committee received additional materials only a few days before the site visit took place. As a result, the committee managed to assess the most recent plans and developments. Faculties which had applied for the additional assessment to obtain an EAPAA accreditation had prepared their materials in English. 14 QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration

15 The committee used the so-called KUO tables as a basis for its assessment of the intake and the success rates of the degree courses under consideration. KUO is short for Kengetallen Universitair Onderwijs. The KUO tables contain quantitative information for all the degree courses offered by Dutch universities, calculated in such a way that it is possible to compare the data for various degree courses. Unfortunately, the committee had no recent KUO tables at its disposal, simply because they were not available. Apart from that, it is at the moment very difficult to draw conclusions about the intake and success rates of the newly created bachelor and master degree courses Working method adopted by the committee The first meeting of the committee was held on 12 January A second preparatory meeting took place immediately before the first site visit, on 21 April During these meetings, the committee agreed on a number of important issues. First of all, it agreed on the procedure for the development of the domain-specific framework of reference. The committee concluded that the framework of reference that was used in the previous assessment of degree courses in public administration could serve as the starting point for the development of a new framework of reference. Prof. Maes agreed to update the framework of reference. He prepared an updated version in close co-operation with Dr. Van der Krogt, which was discussed at the committee meeting on 21 April 2004, prior to the first site visit. The document was updated once more to account for the requirements relating to the level of bachelor and master degree courses resulting from the NVAO s accreditation framework. The most recent version, completed in July 2004, contains an elaboration of the qualifications to be acquired by students completing a bachelor or a master degree course. Secondly, the committee agreed on the assessment framework it would use. The committee decided to use a checklist containing all the subjects and facets from the NVAO s accreditation framework, items from the assessment protocol Quality Assessment Made to Measure (which deal primarily with the undivided, four-year degree courses) and items from the accreditation framework adopted by the EAPAA which were not treated in the other protocols. It also decided to focus on the assessment of the bachelor and master degree courses and to look at the old, undivided degree courses in order to obtain support for the assessments of the newly created degree courses. In this respect, the committee acted in full accordance with the transitional agreement (overgangsregeling) between the NVAO and the VSNU. This report, which primarily deals with the bachelor and master degree courses, clearly reflects the committee s decision. The site visits of the committee took place between April and September 2004: the committee visited the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the University of Twente, the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Open Universiteit Nederland in April and May 2004 and the Radboud University Nijmegen, Leiden University, Tilburg University and Utrecht University in September These visits started with a preparatory meeting, at which the committee looked back to its previous site visit and discussed the self-assessment report and additional materials relating to the degree courses it was about to assess. In addition, it also discussed a number of recent theses produced by graduates of the degree courses to be assessed. In most cases, the committee was unable to study theses produced by graduates of the bachelor and master degree courses, simply because there were no graduates yet. QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 15

16 The programmes for the site visits were all based on the standard programme which is included in Appendix 2 of this report. The committee spoke to a large number of staff members, students, members of Education Committees (Opleidingscommissies) and Exam Committees (Examencommissies), members of the support staff and graduates or alumni. The series of discussions always ended with a discussion with the board of the faculty offering the degree courses. After this discussion, the committee formulated its preliminary conclusions, which its chairman presented to the faculty at the end of the site visit. In those cases where the faculty had applied for EAPAA accreditation, the discussions were mostly held in English. In accordance with the NVAO s accreditation framework, the committee used a four-point scale for its assessments of facets: unsatisfactory satisfactory good excellent. The committee s default assessment was satisfactory. This means that the score for a certain facet was satisfactory if the committee did not observe anything notable or remarkable either in a positive or in a negative sense relating to that facet or if any negative elements were clearly counterbalanced by positive elements. In addition, the committee decided that it would assess facets of bachelor and master degree courses as satisfactory even though it had insufficient hard evidence at its disposal to fully support this claim if it had evidence that the old, undivided degree course fulfilled the criteria and if it was convinced, on the basis of the evidence relating to the old degree course, that the new degree course would also fulfil the criteria for the facet. This approach, which is in line with the transitional agreement (overgangsregeling) between VSNU and NVAO, applies in particular to master degree courses which had not started at the time of the site visit. The committee assessed a facet as good if it had observed clear positive or remarkable elements and no negative elements. It assigned the score excellent in those cases where a degree course clearly presented an example of best practice. The committee is aware that this approach (with satisfactory as the default assessment) may create the impression that it was not too impressed by the quality of the degree courses it assessed. It would like to underline the main purpose of accreditation, which is not to establish how good a certain degree course is, but to decide whether a degree course fulfils the criteria which have been defined by the NVAO. The committee appreciates the disappointment expressed by some faculties. The committee decided that the part of the assessment that is related to the EAPAA accreditation would not be included in its final report. The main reason for this is that it wanted to prevent any possible interference between the procedures for acquiring accreditation in the Dutch context (a formal obligation for degree courses) and the European context (which presents an added value for the degree courses involved, but is in no way obligatory or required). As a result, the reports in Part 2 do not contain any reference to the committee s third task. The final meeting of the committee was held on 10 and 11 January 2005 in Leuven (BE). At this meeting, the committee discussed and agreed on the structure and contents of the reports on the degree courses. After the comments put forward at the Leuven meeting had been processed, the draft reports were sent to the faculties offering the degree courses, which had the opportunity to identify possible misinterpretations and factual errors. In accordance with the outcomes of the Leuven meeting, the final versions of the degree course reports were produced in close co-operation between the Prof. Maes, Dr. Bouhuijs and the secretaries of the committee. The comparative review was prepared by Prof. Maes, in close co-operation with Dr. Van der Krogt. The committee is aware of the fact that other assessment committees recently reported on degree courses offered by the same faculty which offers the degree courses in public administration, namely: 16 QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration

17 the assessment committee Political Science (Politicologie 2004) reported on degree courses offered by Leiden University, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Radboud University Nijmegen; the assessment committee Business Administration (Bedrijfswetenschappen 2004) reported on degree courses offered by the Radboud University Nijmegen and the Open Universiteit. The committee based its assessments on the self assessment reports, on other materials provided by the faculties and on the interviews conducted during the site visits. It is unable to verify whether the information provided to the committee regarding, for instance, policy issues at the faculty level, was identical to the information provided to the other assessment committees. At the same time, it is very well possible that relevant developments had taken place in the period between the visits of the various committees. Obviously, each committee has its own focal points and preoccupations. In addition, it is difficult to compare the findings and conclusions of the assessment committees because they did not use the same assessment frameworks. To be more precise: the assessment committee Business Administration used the VSNU protocol Quality Assessment Made to Measure and focused on the old-style, four-year degree courses, while the assessment committees Political Science and Public Administration used QANU s assessment framework (which is based on the NVAO s accreditation framework) and focused on the new bachelor and master degree courses. Taking into account the remarks made in the previous paragraph, the comparison of the reports produced by the assessment committees can be summarized as follows. The differences with the assessment of the degree courses in political science can all be explained on the basis of the assumption (which is, admittedly, not made explicit in the report of the committee Political Science) that the default assessment of the committee Political Science was good instead of satisfactory, with one exception: the scores for the facet Results of teaching, which are all unsatisfactory in the case of political science. As the remainder of this report will show, the committee was not very much impressed by the success rates of the degree courses in public administration, but it became convinced that these present a more general problem for the whole of higher education for which individual degree courses should not be blamed. The differences with the assessment of the degree courses in business administration seem to be the result of a difference in focus or preoccupation: the demands for internal quality assurance made by the committee Business Administration seem to be inspired by the situation in business. Generally speaking, the latter committee is more critical about aspects of internal quality assurance than the present committee. Finally, the committee would like to stress the fact that its assessments should be treated with care and reticence. The facets for which it expressed its assessments differ significantly. It is therefore not possible to draw general conclusions about the quality of the degree courses treated in this report (apart from the conclusion that the degree courses fulfil the criteria for accreditation) or to make comparisons between degree courses on the basis of the assessments presented here. Another reason for not making arithmetic operations is that the various distances between the points on the scale are not the same. The committee therefore dissociates itself beforehand from any general claim or conclusion based on the assessments of the individual degree courses. QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 17

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19 2. Domain-specific framework of reference The committee has decided in the preparatory meetings that the frame of reference used by the previous review committee (1998) could still be valid to a large extent, but that recent developments in the discipline and the new guidelines of the accreditation agency NVAO as well as the criteria for accreditation of the EAPAA (European Association for Public Administration Accreditation) would require some adaptations. The following text is the result of these adaptations. Introduction The committee is assigned: to assess, in accordance with the official assessment protocol Quality Assessment Made to Measure, the various quality aspects of the undivided (four year) programmes; to carry out an additional assessment of the bachelor and master programmes which are based on the undivided programmes in accordance with the transitional agreement between the VSNU and the NVAO; to assess, in accordance with the procedures for accreditation issued by EAPAA, whether the programmes fulfil the criteria for accreditation of this organisation 1. Substantially the committee is assigned to assess: the structure and content of the programmes, including the quality of the graduates the organisation of the teaching and learning processes. This distinction between content and organisation is maintained in the following frame of reference. Preceding that eight starting points, which describe the common perspective on public administration as a field and as a science are presented. These starting points are largely identical to the ones presented by the previous committee, for reasons of continuity and consistency. The frame of reference also takes into account the recommendations of the previous review by the assessment committee which published its report in Starting points 1. In 1995 a report and proposal for discussion was launched, entitled Een indicatief minimumpakket (An Indicative Minimum Package) 2. This was elaborated by a sub-study group of the Werkgroep Bestuurskundig Onderwijs (Study Group for Academic Education on Public Administration). 1 The Universiteit Utrecht, the Open Universiteit and the Universiteit van Tilburg do not wish to apply for an EAPAA accreditation. The assessment committee does not assess whether the programmes offered by these institutions fulfil the EAPAA criteria. 2 The authors of this report made an inventory of all university public administration programmes in the Netherlands in 1993 and found a number of striking similarities and dissimilarities. On the basis of this the indicative minimum package was elaborated. QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration 19

20 In 2003 the Interfaculty Committee Public Administration (an advisory committee of the VSNU-Association of Universities in The Netherlands) published a short paper with the title Public Administration in The Netherlands; Portrait of a Discipline. In this document the authors describe the academic discipline of Public Administration as it has developed in The Netherlands and that they distinguish from public administration as a form of behaviour oriented on governance of the public domain. It represents the common understanding of the discipline and provides a description of the fundamental and indispensable components of the teaching programmes in this field. The discipline is referred to by using capitals. In 1999 the European Association for Public Administration Accreditation (EAPAA) was founded with the objective to foster the quality of training courses and study programmes in Europe in the field of public administration/management science on the basis of high quality standards 3. EAPAA formulated a set of criteria which public administration programmes should fulfil 4. This frame of reference builds on these three documents. 2. The EAPAA criteria formulate the domain of public administration as: This embraces governance and all the aspects of management and policy that come with it, as well as the social and economic environments that affect it and are affected by it. Also it embraces the understanding of democratic values. 5 The ICB/VSNU group says: Public Administration is an academic discipline focusing on issues concerning the institutional structure, organisation, and operation of (contemporary) public governance and public policymaking, and the ways in which public administration influences society, and, vice versa, is influenced by society. The material object of study can be derived from this statement: Public Administration studies: a. the persons, b. the institutions and organisations, c. the products and d. the functioning of the public sector, e. and its interactions with society. The discipline is sometimes seen as the interdisciplinary body of knowledge on public governance provided by Political Science, Economics, Law and Sociology. Others distinguish a discipline of Public Administration and respect the contribution of the four mentioned disciplines to the study of the public governance. When we speak of Public Administration both views on the discipline are implied 6. All governmental and administrative organisations are included in the term public sector. Both the legislative and administrative bodies and the judiciary are performing directive tasks within society. But also organisations outside these direct organisations of government, the so-called non-governmental organisations, and private organisations are assigned to take on responsibilities with regard to that society, in a public-private co-operation. Public administra- 3 EAPAA Statutes Article 2; 4 EAPAA Accreditation Criteria, version 4, June 2003; 5 EAPAA Accreditation Criteria, op.cit, article Public Administration in the Netherlands; Portrait of a Discipline, ICB/VSNU 2003, p.1 20 QANU / Assessment of degree courses in Public Administration

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