Assessment of the Degree Programmes in Economics at Tilburg University

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1 Assessment of the Degree Programmes in Economics at Tilburg University QANU, April 2010 QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 1

2 Quality Assurance Netherlands Universities (QANU) Catharijnesingel 56 P.O Box RA Utrecht The Netherlands Phone: Fax: Internet: 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 / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University

3 Table of Contents Foreword 5 Preface 7 Part I General Part 9 1. Structure of the report Task and composition of the assessment committee Working method of the assessment committee Domain Specific Requirements Economics Part II Programme Report Report on the bachelor s programme in International Economics and Finance Report on the master s programmes in Accounting, Marketing Research, and International Business Report on the master s programmes in Economics, Economics & Finance of Aging, and International Economics & Finance Report on the master s programmes in Financial Management, and Investment Analysis Report on the master s programmes in Mathematical Economics and Econometric Methods, Operations Research and Management Science, and Quantitative Finance and Actuarial Sciences Report on the master s programmes in Strategic Management, and Logistics and Operations Management 265 Appendices 309 Appendix A: Curricula Vitae of the committee members 311 Appendix B: Composition of the subcommittees 315 Appendix C: Programme of the site visit at Tilburg University 317 QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 3

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5 Foreword This report describes the findings of the assessment committee Economics 2009 for the Economics programmes of Tilburg University. The report is part of the quality assessment of university bachelor and master degree programmes in the Netherlands. The purpose of this report is to present a reliable picture of the results of the degree programmes submitted for this review, to give feedback to the internal quality assurance of the programmes concerned, and to serve as the basis for accreditation of this programmes by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). Quality Assurance Netherlands Universities (QANU) aims to ensure independent, unbiased, critically constructive assessments using standardized quality criteria, while taking specific circumstances into account. In the Economics 2009 assessment, QANU uses a new method in which clustered assessments are organised and completed in a short period of time. This preserves the momentum for the programmes involved and ensures quick feedback to the internal quality assurance. In large clustered assessments such as Economics 2009, the new QANU method demands great flexibility from the committee members. Each site visit is executed by a different subcommittee, composed of members of the assessment committee. A core of committee members is present at each site visit to ensure the coherence of the entire assessment. The QANU Economics 2009 assessment committee has fulfilled its task in Tilburg with great dedication. The programmes have been evaluated in a thorough and careful manner. We expect that the judgements and recommendations will be carefully considered by the programme organisation and the Board of the University. We thank the chairman and members of the assessment committee for their willingness to participate in this assessment and for the dedication with which they carried out their task. We also thank the staff of the department concerned for their efforts and for their cooperation during the assessment. Quality Assurance Netherlands Universities Mr. Chris J. Peels Director Dr. Jan G.F. Veldhuis Chairman of the Board QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 5

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7 Preface On October 12-14, and October , the Economics 2009 assessment committee paid a visit to Tilburg University in the context of her task to evaluate the bachelor and master programmes in Economics. In the period from May to December 2009, the committee has visited a total of seven Dutch universities offering 62 bachelor and master programmes in Economics. To evaluate the programmes in Tilburg, the committee carefully read the self-evaluation reports and many underlying documents, and talked to faculty, staff and students during the site visit. The committee greatly appreciates the openness she encountered, both in the written documents as well as in the many interviews. On the basis of this, the committee was able to form a well-reasoned opinion of the various aspects of the programmes, as summarised in this report. Key to the committee s assessment is the scientific nature of a programme that should be clear from all of the programme s elements. In particular, the thesis should reflect this, as it is the pièce de résistance of a student. In this thesis, the science taught during the whole programme should result in a scientific piece of work. The committee has formed its opinion on this crucial aspect on the basis of a careful evaluation of available theses, the procedures that guide the thesis writing process as well all other programme elements leading to this end product. On behalf of the committee members, I would like to thank all of those involved in the preparation and execution of this assessment procedure for their contributions and support, both at Tilburg University and at QANU. Without their effort and their willingness to respond constructively to the many requests from the committee, we could not have carried out the work as smoothly and pleasantly as we did. Also, I gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the other committee members. In a very pleasant and creative atmosphere, we have been able to work through the whole process to produce this report. In this context, the support of Titia Buising deserves a special note of appreciation. Without her, we would have been nowhere. Arjen van Witteloostuijn Chair Assessment Committee Economics 2009 QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 7

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9 PART I: GENERAL PART QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 9

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11 1. Structure of the report In this document, the Economics 2009 assessment committee reports its findings. The report consists of two parts: a general part and a programme part. The general part summarises the tasks, composition, input documentation and working methods of the assessment committee. This part of the report also contains the domainspecific requirements for Economics 2009 that were used by the assessment committee. The programme part describes the evaluation and assessment of the Economics programmes at Tilburg University that were assessed. This programme part is structured in accordance with the accreditation criteria of NVAO (Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders). QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 11

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13 2. Task and composition of the assessment committee 2.1. Task of the assessment committee The task of the Economics 2009 assessment committee is to evaluate and assess a total of 63 degree programmes at seven different universities according to the accreditation criteria set by NVAO. Based on and in accordance with these criteria, the assessment committee is expected to assess different aspects of quality of the programmes involved, based on the information provided by the faculties and programmes in self-evaluation reports and on discussions during the site visits. The assessment reports contain implicit recommendations by the committee; however, the emphasis lies on the assessment and justification of basic quality. The assessment committee has been requested to assess the following programmes (including CROHO number): Wageningen University Bachelor, Economics & Policy (50101) University of Groningen Bachelor, Economics and Business Economics (50950) Bachelor Econometrics and Operations Research (56833) Bachelor, Accountancy and Controlling (50643) Bachelor, Business Economics (50674) Bachelor, Fiscal Economics (56402) Master, Accountancy and Controlling (60643) Master, Econometrics, Operations Research and Actuarial Sciences (60646) Master, International Economics and Business (60648) Master, Economics (66401) Master, Fiscal Economics (66402) Erasmus University Rotterdam Bachelor, Economics and Business Economics (50950) Bachelor, Econometrics and Operations Research (56833) Bachelor, Fiscal Economics (56402) Master, Fiscal Economics (66402) Master, Econometrics and Management Science (60079) Master, Economics and Business (60652) Master, Economics and Informatics (60951) Maastricht University Bachelor, Economics (50023) Bachelor, Econometrics and Operations Research (50006) Bachelor, Fiscal Economics (56402) Master, Financial Economics (60321) Master, International Economic Studies (60014) Master, Econometrics and Operations Research (60307) Master, Fiscal Economics (66402) QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 13

14 Tilburg University Bachelor, Economics (56401) Bachelor, Econometrics and Operations Research (56833) Bachelor, Fiscal Economics (56402) Bachelor, Economics and Business Economics (50950) Bachelor, Business Economics (50750) Master, Mathematical Economics and Econometric Methods (60056) Master, Operations Research and Management Sciences (60057) Master, Quantitative Finance and Actuarial Sciences (60058) Master, Accounting (60059) Master, Accountancy (60060) Master, Financial Management (60061) Master, Investment Analysis (60062) Master, Marketing Management (60063) Master, Marketing Research (60064) Master, Logistics and Operations Management (60065) Master, Strategic Management (60066) Master, International Economics and Finance (60067) Master, Economics (66401) Master, Fiscal Economics (66402) Master, Economics and Finance of Aging (60898) Master, International Business (60019) University of Amsterdam Bachelor, Actuarial Sciences (56411) Bachelor, Econometrics and Operations Research (56833) Bachelor, Fiscal Economics (56402) Master, Accountancy and Control (60900) Master, Actuarial Sciences (66411) Master, Business Economics (60901) Master, Econometrics (60177) Master, Economics (66401) Master, Fiscal Economics (66402) Master, Operations Research and Management (60904) VU University Amsterdam Bachelor, Economics and Business Economics (50950) Bachelor, Econometrics and Operations Research (56833) Master, Accounting & Control (60047) Master, Economics (66401) Master, Marketing (60048) Master, Finance (60046) Master, Economics and Operations Research (66833) 2.2. Constitution of the committee The assessment committee consists of a chairman and 14 members. Appendix A lists short descriptions of the curricula vitae of the committee members. 14 QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University

15 Chair Prof. dr. A. van Witteloostuijn, Research Professor of Economics and Management at University of Antwerp (Belgium) and Professor of Institutional Economics at the Utrecht School of Economics. Members Prof. dr. P.A. Verheyen, retired professor of business econometrics and former chair of the board of the University of Tilburg (vice-chair); Prof. dr. J. Annaert, Professor of Finances, University of Antwerp (Belgium); Prof. dr. J.W. Zwemmer; retired professor of tax law, University of Amsterdam; Prof. dr. P. Vanden Abeele, Professor of Marketing and Organisation, Catholic University Leuven (Belgium); Prof. dr. ir. B. Wierenga, Professor of Marketing, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Prof. dr. J. Hartog, Professor of Economics, University of Amsterdam; Prof. dr. J.G. Kuijl, Professor of Business Economics incl. fiscal accounting, Leiden University; Prof. dr. F.A.G. den Butter, Professor of Economics, VU University Amsterdam; Prof. dr. J.F.M.J. van Hout, retired professor of education, University of Amsterdam, professor at the Ruud de Moor Centre, Open University Netherlands; Mrs. ir. H. Grunefeld, educational advisor, IVLOS, Utrecht University; Mrs. drs. L. van der Grijspaarde, educational advisor, independent entrepreneur for educational advice; Mrs. P.L.M. Geertman, student of Econometrics & Operations Research, University of Tilburg; Mr. E.A. de Kok, student of Econometrics, member of FSR FEB, University of Amsterdam. Advisory member Prof. dr. H.C. Tijms, retired professor of operations research, VU University Amsterdam. Drs. A. Wiering (student Economics, VU Amsterdam) was installed as student member of the committee Economics Due to illness at the time of one visit and job obligations at a second visit, he did not participate in any site-visit. Given the large number of degree programmes and the short period during which the site visits were planned, the decision was made to work with a pool of committee members. For each site visit a subcommittee was selected from this pool. Several factors were taken into consideration for the composition of the subcommittees: the availability of the committee members, conflicts of interest, the discipline of expertise of the committee members, and the composition of the different subcommittees. In appendix B the composition of the subcommittees and the dates of the site visits are provided. A core group of committee members was involved in the assessment of all participating universities. This core group consisted of professor A. van Witteloostuijn, professor P.A. Verheyen and professor J. Annaert. It should be mentioned that although professor A. van Witteloostuijn was not a member of the subcommittee that assessed the programmes at QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 15

16 Tilburg University, he did study the findings and the report to ensure the consistency of the assessments. Despite the formal absence of a conflict of interest, professor P.A. Verheyen did not consider himself objective enough to assess the programmes at the University of Tilburg. For the assessment of the degree programmes at this university, professor H.C. Tijms was asked to provide a written assessment of the econometric programmes. This construction ensured that for all subdisciplines, the assessment committee had sufficient expertise. The project leader of the clustered assessment of economics programmes was Mrs. dr. M.J.V. Van Bogaert, QANU staff member. She was also appointed secretary for the site visits at Wageningen University, Erasmus University Rotterdam and VU University Amsterdam. Secretary for the site visit at the University of Groningen was the self-employed advisor drs. P.C. van Drunen. Secretary for the site visit at Maastricht University was the self-employed advisor Mrs. drs. K.B. Wibbelink. Additionally, Mrs. drs. L. van der Grijspaarde, selfemployed advisor and committee member was involved in the writing of the report, as was Mrs. dr. M.J.V. Van Bogaert. Secretary for the site visit at the University of Tilburg was the self-employed advisor Mrs. drs. T. Buising. Secretary for the site visit at the University of Amsterdam was Mrs. N. Verseput MSc, QANU staff member All members of the assessment committee signed a declaration of independence as required by the QANU protocol to ensure that the committee members judge without bias, personal preference or personal interest, and the judgement is made without undue influence from the institute, the programme or other stakeholders Specifics on the site visit at Tilburg University The committee was requested to assess the following programmes at Tilburg University: Bachelor, Economics (56401) Bachelor, Econometrics and Operations Research (56833) Bachelor, Fiscal Economics (56402) Bachelor, Economics and Business Economics (50950) Bachelor, Business Economics (50750) Master, Mathematical Economics and Econometric Methods (60056) Master, Operations Research and Management Sciences (60057) Master, Quantitative Finance and Actuarial Sciences (60058) Master, Accounting (60059) Master, Accountancy (60060) Master, Financial Management (60061) Master, Investment Analysis (60062) Master, Marketing Management (60063) Master, Marketing Research (60064) Master, Logistics and Operations Management (60065) Master, Strategic Management (60066) Master, International Economics and Finance (60067) Master, Economics (66401) Master, Fiscal Economics (66402) Master, Economics and Finance of Aging (60898) Master, International Business (60019) 16 QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University

17 The subcommittee for the site-visit at Tilburg University consisted of the following committee members: Prof. dr. A. van Witteloostuijn (chair) Prof. dr. P.A. Verheyen (observing) Prof. dr. H.C. Tijms (advising member) Prof. dr. J. Annaert Prof. dr. P. Vanden Abeele Prof. dr. J.W. Zwemmer Prof. dr. J.F.M.J. van Hout Mr. E.A. de Kok As mentioned previously in this report, professor Verheyen did not consider himself sufficiently objective to assess the programmes at Tilburg University. For the assesssment of the degree programmes in his subdiscipline (quantitative economics), professor Tijms was invited to assess these programmes. Since professor Verheyen was one of two committee members who participated in all site visits, he was present as an observing committee member during the site visit in Tilburg, to assure consistency between the different site visits. Not all committee members were able to participate the entire site-visit. The programme of the site visit was adjusted to the expertise and presence of the committee members. For the assessment of each degree programme, at least fve committee members were present during the interviews. The secretary of the subcommittee was Mrs. drs. T. Buising. During the site-visit she was assisted by Mrs. N. Verseput MSc, QANU staff member. The site visit took place on and October The programme of the site visit is included in appendix C. The assessment of the 21 degrees at Tilburg University are provided in two reports. The first report contains assessments in Dutch of the bachelor s programmes Algemene Economie, Bedrijfseconomie, Econometrie en Operationele Research, Fiscale Economie, and of the master s programmes in Accountancy, Marketing Management, and Fiscale Economie. The second report contains assessments of the bachelor s programme in International Economics and Finance, and of the master s programmes in Accounting, Marketing Research, International Business, Economics, International Economics and Finance, Economics and Finance of Aging, Financial Management, Investment Analysis, Mathematic Economics and Econometric Methods, Operations Research and Management Science, Quantitative Finance and Actuarial Studies, Strategic Management, and in Logistics & Operations Management. Due to the large number of programmes the committee had to assess combined with the limited time that could be spend to each programme during the site-visit, the committee decided to cluster the assessment of several standards. Often, the assessment is provided at faculty level, after which exceptions or additions are given for the individual programmes. It is possible that the general assessment is adapted for all programmes that are assessed in the relevant chapter of the report. The committee has nonetheless decided to keep the original assessment intact. Most programme reports contain the assessment of several educational programmes. In both the description and in the assessment of the standards the following procedure was used: The QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 17

18 descriptions and assessments that apply to all programmes are given first. If a paragraph refers to one ore more specific programmes, the name(s) of this/these programme(s) are given in Italic above the paragraph. 18 QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University

19 3. Working method of the assessment committee 3.1. Introduction The assessment committee was constituted formally on 23 April During this inaugural meeting the assessment committee discussed its task and the working methods. Furthermore, the assessment committee discussed the proposal for domain-specific requirements of the Landelijk disciplineoverleg Economie. This proposal was adjusted by the assessment committee at several points and subsequently instituted as the Domain-Specific Requirements Economics 2009, provided in chapter Preparatory phase After receiving the self-evaluation reports from one of the faculties, the responsible secretary checks the quality and completeness of the information provided. After approval of the selfevaluation reports, they are forwarded to the appropriate subcommittee. During the initial meeting at the start of each site visit, the subcommittee is prepared for that specific site visit. After reading the self-evaluation reports, the subcommittee members formulate questions that are forwarded to the secretary. The secretary compiles the questions into a document and groups them by theme. In addition to the self-evaluation reports, the subcommittee members read at least two theses for each programme that is assessed. The actual number of theses assessed per programme depended on the total number of programmes to be assessed and the number of subcommittee members. A maximum of four theses for each member of the subcommittee was the set limit. When considered necessary, committee members could read additional theses during the site visit. Selection of the theses is done at random by the secretary, after deliberation with the chairman. Since the assessment committee has to evaluate programmes leading to a scientific degree (BSc or MSc), specific attention is given to the scientific level of the theses, the requirements, carefulness of judgement by the reviewer of the programme and the assessment procedure used. After all, in a thesis the student has to show evidence of the required qualifications to earn a degree. Precise safeguarding of the consistency of clustered assessments is always considered of major importance. For this specific cluster close attention is being paid to the consistency of assessments between the universities because of the different compositions of the subcommittees and the time-limits and schedule of delivery of the reports. The chair, professor dr. A. van Witteloostuijn, and the project coordinator, dr. M.J.V. Van Bogaert, are responsible for ensuring consistency. One of the measures taken was the creation of a core group of committee members, who were asked to incorporate previous assessments when discussing the scores and programmes during a site visit. Also, it was decided to inform the entire committee about the outcomes of each site visit and have all committee members approve of all finalised reports. Finally, the secretaries involved in the clustered assessment meet regularly to coordinate the assessments. Within each subcommittee a specific allocation of tasks is agreed upon, based on its expertise and composition. It should be emphasised that although specific tasks are assigned, the entire assessment committee remains responsible for the judgements and the final reports Site visits Before each site visit the responsible secretary creates a programme for the interviews. The draft programme is discussed with the chair of the assessment committee and the coordinator QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 19

20 of the faculty being visited. If needed, the programme is adapted. During the site visits, interviews are held with a representative of the faculty board, the programme management, alumni, education committees, examination committee(s), study advisors and other supporting staff. Furthermore, for each programme a selection of both students and lecturers is interviewed. During each site visit the subcommittee receives additional information, for example study books and reports from the meetings of the education committees. This information is studied during the site visit. The assessment committee is also granted access to the electronic landscape of the programmes. A consultation hour is scheduled to give students and staff of the programmes the opportunity to talk to the assessment committee. No requests were received for the consultation hour at Tilburg University. The assessment committee uses a significant part of the final day of a site visit to discuss the assessment of the programmes and to prepare a preliminary presentation of the findings. Each site visit concludes with a presentation by the chair in which the preliminary findings are provided. The presentation consists of a general assessment and several specific findings and impressions of the programmes Scores of the standards The assessments are performed in accordance with NVAO s accreditation framework. The scale for the scores of the standards prescribed by NVAO was adopted; each standard is scored on a four-point scale (unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good, and excellent), themes are scored on a two-point scale (satisfactory, unsatisfactory). The assessment committee adopted the standard decision rules provided by QANU. These are: Unsatisfactory, which means that the level for this facet is below the basic standard of quality; Satisfactory, which means that the level meets the best basic standards of quality; Good, which means that a quality level is attained that exceeds the basic standards of quality and is the result of a well-considered policy; Excellent, which means that a quality level is attained that is very good in all aspects and meets international benchmarking. It is an example of international best practice. The default assessment is satisfactory, i.e. the programme complies adequately with the criteria. The assessment committee feels that despite critical remarks, the score satisfactory can be given to a specific standard. In those situations, the critical remarks will be accompanied by positive observations. Furthermore, the assessment committee is of the opinion that if the programme management deals adequately with the critical remarks, the score satisfactory might become good at the next site visit. When the assessment committee observes a good national practice, the judgment will be good. When both a good practice and a critical remark are observed by the committee, a weighed average score is given. In the rare case that the assessment committee decides to grant an excellent score, it aims to signal a best international practice that deserves to be copied within the academic community. 20 QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University

21 3.5. Reporting After each site visit the responsible project leader writes a draft report based on the findings of the committee. The draft is first read and commented upon by the chair and subsequently sent to the other subcommittee members. The draft report is then sent to the faculty involved to check for factual irregularities. Any comments of the faculty are discussed with the chair of the assessment committee and, if necessary, with the other subcommittee members. The final report is sent out to the entire committee for final comments and approval. After that, the report becomes official. QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 21

22 22 QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University

23 4. Domain Specific Requirements Economics 2009 Introduction and benchmark A domain-specific Economics benchmark for 2009 was created in order to assess the standard of all BSc and MSc degree programmes at Dutch universities that fall within the scope of the Economics 2009 cluster. The benchmark outlines the minimum requirements for academic degree programmes in the Economics field or subfield. Because of the diversity of degree programmes within the cluster, it was decided that the benchmark should not be prescriptive. The benchmark thus offers degree programmes the latitude to develop their own profiles, giving variable weight to specific aspects of the programmes depending on the central aims and the approach taken. This framework requires degree programmes to justify the choices made by proving that they meet the criteria of the NVAO accreditation framework. Explicit references to the domain-specific Economics benchmark for 2009 can be used to explain deviations. Economics as a discipline Economics is the social science that analyses the production and distribution of scarce resources. Many economists study the factors which drive agents to act in markets and within organizations. Such analyses focus on the important role played by the allocation of scarce production factors and the impact this has on the prosperity of society as a whole. General economics takes a primarily social perspective, whereas business economics goes deeper into the various business processes. Another key focus area is the study of business process management. Methodology is another important aspect of this domain: this is where subjects such as decision-making, econometrics and mathematics come into play. Aims, level and orientation of the degree programmes In general, the committee expects the aims of the degree programmes to express the fact that they aim to train students both in the chosen discipline (i.e. in relation to the field in question) and academically. This means that students should gain knowledge and understanding of the field and acquire both relevant subject-related and general academic skills. Hence the programmes emphasise the characteristics and value of academic research, the importance of knowledge and understanding of theory and methodology, and the relative nature of interpretations; they also offer a framework within which students can learn to apply that knowledge and understanding appropriately. A BSc degree programme offers a broad, general education to an elementary academic standard. Students who have completed a BSc degree meet the criteria for entry to an MSc degree programme. An MSc programme offers the opportunity to go deeper into a particular field, subfield or combination of subfields than is possible in a BSc programme. An MSc programme also focuses more on the future working environment, for instance research institutes, government institutions or the business world. The various degree programmes also prepare students for careers in society at large, where the knowledge and skills gained during their studies may be put to use. Generally speaking, this is not so much a case of preparation for specific career paths; rather, it is about acquiring an academic attitude and a box of academic tools. These should dovetail with the expectations society has of graduates of the degree programmes assessed in the context of the Economics 2009 assessment. This means that the degree programmes highlight both academic and social aspects and do not merely concentrate on current developments within the field of study. The BSc degree programme is the cornerstone of the development of a general academic way of thinking. During this period students learn not only to cast the net QANU / Economics 2009 / Tilburg University 23

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