QANU, June Assessment of the Master s Degree Programme Public Policy and Human Development at Maastricht University

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1 QANU, June 2010 Assessment of the Master s Degree Programme Public Policy and Human Development at Maastricht University

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 / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht 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 17 Part II Programme Report Report on the master s programme in Public Policy and Human Development 21 Appendices 49 Appendix A: Elaborated learning outcomes 51 Appendix B: Curricula Vitae of the committee members 53 Appendix C: Programme of the site visit at Maastricht University 55 QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 3

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5 Foreword This report describes the findings of the Public Policy and Human Development assessment committee for the master s programme Public Policy and Human Development of Maastricht University. The report is part of the quality assessment of university bachelor s and master s programmes in the Netherlands. The purpose of this report is to present a reliable picture of the results of the degree programme, to give feedback to the internal quality assurance of the programme, and to serve as the basis for accreditation of this programme by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). Quality Assurance Netherlands Universities (QANU) aims to ensure independent, unbiased, critically constructive assessments using standardised quality criteria, while taking specific circumstances into account. The QANU Public Policy and Human Development assessment committee has fulfilled its task in Maastricht with great dedication. The programme has 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 / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 5

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7 Preface On April 12 to , the Public Policy and Human Development assessment committee paid a visit to the University of Maastricht in the context of her task to evaluate the master s programme in Public Policy and Human Development. To evaluate the programme in Maastricht, the committee carefully read the self-evaluation report 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 programme, as summarized in this report. Two key elements in the committee s assessment are the scientific nature and job orientated outcomes 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 and job oriented competences during the whole programme should result in an (applied) scientific piece of work. The committee has formed its opinion on these crucial aspects 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. In all, the committee considers the programme to be, indeed, of a (applied) scientific nature. 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 the Maastricht 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 Nikki Verseput deserves a special note of appreciation. Without her, we would have been nowhere. Paul Verweel Chair Public Policy and Human Development assessment committee QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 7

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9 PART I: GENERAL PART QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 9

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11 1. Structure of the report In this document, the Public Policy and Human Development assessment committee reports its findings. The report consists of two parts: a general part (Part I) and a programme part (Part II). 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 that were used by the assessment committee. The programme part describes the evaluation and assessment of the master s programme in Public Policy and Human Development at Maastricht University. This programme part is structured in accordance with the accreditation criteria of NVAO (Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders). QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht 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 assessment committee is to evaluate and assess the master s programme in Public Policy and Human Development at Maastricht University 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 programme, based on the information provided by the programme in the self-evaluation report and on discussions during the site visit. The assessment report contains 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 master s programme Public Policy and Human Development (CROHO number 60328) 2.2. Constitution of the committee The assessment committee consists of a chairman and two members. Appendix B lists short descriptions of the curricula vitae of the committee members. Chair Professor P. Verweel, professor, researcher and head of department and director of education for the Utrecht School of Governance, of the Faculty of law, economics and governance of Utrecht University. Members Professor A. Barrientos, Senior Research Fellow van het Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester, en Senior Researcher van het Chronic Poverty Research Centre; Mr. B. Paulussen BSc, student of the the Utrecht School of Governance (bachelor s programme, Utrecht University. 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. Originally, QANU had the intention to install a committee of four members to assess the programme. On 12 April 2010, during the inaugural meeting in which the committee was installed, it became clear that the participation of one of the intended committee members would lead to a possible conflict of interest, because he had recently been involved with the programme as a guest lecturer. QANU did not know about this prior involvement until the inaugural meeting of the committee. Consequently, QANU decided during the meeting that the intended committee member was not in a position to sign the required declaration of independence. After consulting both the committee and the management of the programme, QANU determined that he could only participate in the site visit as an advisor, and carefully made sure that he did not actively contribute when the committee decided on their assessment of the programme at the end of the site visit. The project leader of the assessment was N.M. Verseput MSc, QANU staff member. The site visit took place on 12 and 13 April The programme of the site visit is included in appendix C. QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 13

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15 3. Working method of the assessment committee 3.1. Introduction The assessment committee was constituted formally on 12 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. This proposal was adjusted and subsequently instituted as the Domain-Specific Requirements, provided in chapter Preparatory phase After receiving the self-evaluation report, the project leader checked the quality and completeness of the information provided. After approval, the self-evaluation report was forwarded to the assessment committee. During the initial meeting at the start of site visit, the assessment committee discussed their findings. In addition to the self-evaluation report, the committee members each read two theses for the programme that is assessed. This led to the assessment of a total of 8 theses for the entire programme. When considered necessary, committee members could read additional theses during the site visit. Selection of the theses was done at random by the project leader and the members of the committee. Since the assessment committee has to evaluate programmes leading to a scientific degree (MSc), specific attention was 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. Within the committee a specific allocation of tasks was agreed upon, based on its expertise and composition. It should be emphasized that although specific tasks are assigned, the entire assessment committee remains responsible for the judgements and the final report Site visit Before the site visit the project leader created a programme for the interviews. The draft programme was discussed with the chair of the assessment committee and the coordinator of the programme. During the site visit, interviews are held with a representative of the faculty board, Programme Director, Educational Committee, Examination Board, alumni, study advisor and other supporting staff. Furthermore, a selection of both students and lecturers was interviewed. During the site visit the committee received additional information, for example study books and reports from the meetings of the Educational Committee. This information was studied during the site visit. A consultation hour was 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. The assessment committee used a significant part of the final day of a site visit to discuss the assessment of the programme and to prepare a preliminary presentation of the findings. The site visit concluded with a presentation by the chairman in which the preliminary findings were provided. The presentation consisted of a general assessment and several specific findings and impressions of the programme. QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 15

16 3.4. 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. 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 Reporting After the site visit the project leader writes a draft report based on the findings of the committee. The draft is first read and commented upon by the committee 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 committee members. After that, the report becomes official. 16 QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University

17 4. Domain Specific Requirements The programme decided to write its own Domain Specific Requirements. The programme management is of opinion that the programme fits these Domain Specific Requirements. General requirements Because policy challenges are not neatly bundled into academic subjects, the typical master s programme Public Policy (MPP) is interdisciplinary. It draws upon economics, political science, applied statistics, sociology and other areas to provide students with the theoretical grounding and hands-on tools needed to address a vast range of public concerns like social policy problems, environmental problems, trade and globalization questions and challenges in migration and health. None of these problems can adequately be addressed without understanding the economic and financial contexts, the political processes needed to come to decisions and the social-, historical- and cultural setting in which the chosen policy has to be designed, implemented and monitored. None of these problems can be analyzed without an analysis of the empirical data at hand and without understanding the evidence which is presented by the data and by other analysts. The contemporary policy analyst needs a wide array of analytical frameworks for understanding and analyzing policy and the contexts that give rise to policy options. In order to analyze these policy options skills fundamental to assessing the policy process and policy environment as well as a theoretical and practical understanding of how policy-related organizations operate and are constructed, are needed. In addition, policy analysts need to grasp fully the economic consequences of policy interventions both in terms of their financing needs as well in their potential microeconomic and macroeconomic impact. Performing careful policy analyses is seen as a crucial element of good governance. Writing logically and convincingly, using quantitative and qualitative research methods, making effective oral presentations, distinguishing advocacy from analysis and developing the strategic and moral qualities required of effective policy professionals, are considered to be important skills valuable in many settings from national and local government to research institutes, think tanks consulting firms, community-action groups, and direct-service providers. The typical MPP programme emphasizes practical and applied dimensions of policy-making and implementation and pays attention to develop skills in: Defining policy issues to make them more intelligible to officials in the public or private sector; Providing a broader perspective for assessing policy alternatives; Examining techniques for developing policy options and evaluating their social consequences; Developing strategies for the successful implementation of public policies once they have been adopted. More specifically, the courses are designed to enable the graduates to achieve the following: Skill in written communication and in verbal reporting; An understanding of political institutions and processes, strategies, and skills associated with policy creation and adoption; QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 17

18 Knowledge of the organizational and bureaucratic structures involved in programme development and implementation; Skill in application of economic analysis to questions of economic trade-off and policy choice and efficiency; Familiarity with cost-benefit analysis and other applications of quantitative analysis and modeling, as well as the use of statistical software; An understanding of social science methodologies for dealing with problems of data collection, analysis, and programme evaluation. There are very few master s programmes in Public Policy Analysis in Europe. In the United States, however, MPP programmes have a long tradition. The oldest programme has been installed at the Maxwell School for Public Policy at Syracuse University (1937). The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) is the professional association of the universities and schools offering MPP programmes and of research institutes and other professional organizations active in the field of public policy. Although APPAM is too small (90 members approximately 70 of which are schools or universities) to have a formal accreditation organization, the members are in close contact with each other to discuss the curricula and other academic issues during a yearly meeting of the academic directors/deans in the spring and a yearly conference in the fall. During these meetings course syllabi and teaching methods and -technology are exchanged and discussed. Through informal and formal contacts, through exchange of lecturers and students and through peer pressure, APPAM sets the standards for the academic quality of the programmes of their members. The Maastricht programme Several academic members of APPAM advised the Maastricht University at the time of designing the MPP programme in 2004, the standards of the APPAM where closely monitored by the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (School), which offers the programme, when implementing its MPP programme. The School is an active APPAM member and organized the first European APPAM conference in February The School benchmarks the content of its MPP programme with similar programmes at, among others The Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, The Kennedy School at Harvard, the L.B. Johnson School at Houston Texas, the Ford School at Michigan, the School for Public Policy at George Mason University and the Richard & Rhoda Goldman School at Berkeley. There are substantial similarities in the way the MPP programmes are designed across APPAM members. The main elements are found in all the programmes, but the specializations offered, differ, reflecting the availability of specialized staff with certain colleagues. The Maastricht MPP programme has five specialization options: Social Protection Financing/Design, Globalization, Trade and Development, Migration studies, Sustainable Development and Food, Health and Development. The specializations are chosen on the one hand to reflect the research capacity of the Maastricht Faculty and thus the available expertise at the university and on the other hand to respond to important contemporary policy challenges, in turn reflected by the interests of students. The Maastricht MPP programme is unique in its specialization in Social Protection Financing and Design. It is most probably the only MPP with this focus in the world. 18 QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University

19 PART II: PROGRAMME REPORT QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 19

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21 5. Report on the master s programme in Public Policy and Human Development offered by Maastricht University Administrative data Master s programme in Public Policy and Human Development: Name of the programme: Public Policy and Human Development CROHO number: Level: master Orientation: academic Number of credits: 60 EC Degree: Master of Science Mode(s) of study: full-time Location(s): Maastricht Expiration of accreditation: 2 May 2011 The site visit of the Public Policy and Human Development assessment committee (from here on refered to as committee ) to the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences (Maastricht Graduate School of Governance) of Maastricht University took place on 12 and 13 April Structure and organization of the faculty The master s programme in Public Policy and Human Development (MPP) is offered by the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (from here on refered to as School ) at Maastricht University. The School has a limited number of activities including the MPP programme, PhD programmes, a portfolio of professional training programmes, research projects (commissioned) and policy analysis-relevant advisory services. To provide the MPP programme and implement other activities, the School works together with the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, and the International Centre for Integrative Assessment and Sustainable Development. Most of the teaching is done by staff members of Maastricht University, while approximately 30% of the teaching is delivered by guest lecturers of other universities and research institutes and by professionals in the field of public policy analysis. The MPP programme is managed by the Programme Director, who is responsible for strategic decisions and daily implementation of the programme. Recruitment, admission, course administration, exam administration and alumni relations are organized by the Students Affairs Office of the School and the School s central administration The assessment framework 1.1. Aims and objectives S1: Subject-/discipline-specific requirements The learning outcomes of the programme correspond with the requirements set by professional colleagues, both nationally and internationally and the relevant domain concerned (subject/discipline and/or professional practice). QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 21

22 Description According to the self-evaluation report, the MPP programme offers a solid basis in the theories and methods used in public policy analysis to students with a background in one of the social sciences. The programme aims to equip them with the tools necessary to analyse actual policy problems and familiarize students with the current research practice in the field. Seven basic learning outcomes are distinguished. Appendix A provides an overview in which these learning outcomes are elaborated and subdivided into learning outcomes regarding knowledge and skills. The learning outcomes are: 1. To give students a thorough understanding of the academic literature in the field of policy analysis and in the field of their specialization; 2. To teach students the methods and tools to analyse and interpret empirical data and actual policy analyses; 3. To teach students to apply social science theories and methods to analyse policy decisions and outcomes; 4. To foster the necessary attitude and skills to conduct independent academic research; 5. To enhance the genuine interest in the public sector of students; 6. To widen the scope of students beyond their own cultural and national background to enable them to use their knowledge and skills in an international setting; 7. To provide students with the knowledge and the skills to be generalists in their intellectual scope and specialists in the field of policy analysis with an open attitude towards differences in points of view and in interests. The self-evaluation report states that the MPP programme is focused on public policy analysis, and thus differs from master s programmes in public administration emphasizing policy processes. There are very few master s programmes focused on public policy analysis in Europe. In the United States, however, MPP programmes have a long tradition. The oldest programme was established at the Maxwell School for Public Policy at Syracuse University in The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) is the professional association of the universities and schools offering MPP programmes and sets the standards for the academic quality of its members programmes. These standards were closely examined by the School when implementing the MPP programme. Assessment The committee studied the learning outcomes defined by the MPP programme, and ascertained that they correspond to the requirements set by professional colleagues and by the concerned field. The committee also compared the programme with similar academic programmes referred to in the domain-specific requirements, e.g. with the Maxwell School for Public Policy at Syracuse University, and with domain-specific requirements, and found that the learning outcomes of the programme are in line with accepted domain-specific requirements. The committee concluded that the programme certainly meets the criteria concerning this standard. The committee states that the focus of the MPP programme is quite unique, and a fruitful combination of the public policy and human development fields. There is no programme in the Netherlands that integrates the different disciplines the way the MPP programme does. For this reason, the domain-specific requirements are internationally focussed. The committee noted that the domain-specific requirements are set out very clearly and match the learning outcomes of the programme. The committee would like to point out that there could be a stronger focus on human development within the domain-specific requirements. 22 QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University

23 Overall, the committee finds it very useful to have this programme in the Netherlands and believes the programme has a great future. In addition, the committee concluded that the learning outcomes of the programme highly correspond with the requirements set by professional colleagues, and the relevant domain concerned. The committee is impressed by the statements and ambition of the MPP programme, and assesses the learning outcomes as both promising and challenging. They are multidisciplinary and offer students a broad perspective, which the committee finds relevant taking into account the requirements set by professional colleagues. Alumni confirmed this statement during the interviews and stressed the value of the knowledge of different disciplines they acquired during the programme. Master s programme in Public Policy and Human Development: the committee assesses this standard as good. S2: Bachelor and master level The learning outcomes of the programme correspond with the general, internationally accepted descriptions of a Bachelor s qualification or a Master s qualification. Description The MPP programme meets the internationally accepted requirements for an academic master s programme as specified by the Dublin descriptors, according to the self-evaluation report. Table 1 relates the Dublin descriptors and the elaborated learning outcomes which are specified in Appendix A. Dublin descriptor Learning outcomes Knowledge and understanding K1, K2, K3, K4, S1, S2, S3 Applying knowledge and understanding K5, K6, S4, S5, S6 Making judgments K7, S7 Communication S8, S9 Learning skills S10, S11, S12 Table 1. Learning outcomes linked to Dublin descriptors Assessment The committee verified the relationship between the learning outcomes and the Dublin descriptors, which are considered to be general, internationally accepted descriptions of a master s programme. The committee observed that all Dublin descriptors are reflected in the learning outcomes. The committee therefore concluded that the learning outcomes correspond with general, internationally accepted descriptions of a master s programme. The committee established that the Dublin descriptor for knowledge and understanding is reflected in, for example, learning outcome K2, an advanced knowledge of theories relevant for policy analysis and for the chosen specialization. The Dublin descriptor for applying knowledge and understanding is reflected in, for example, learning outcome S4, capable of analyzing policy options using the existing approaches. The Dublin descriptor for making judgements is reflected in learning outcomes K7, understanding the link between theories and methods and the moral philosophical ideas, and S7, capable of assessing, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, the consequences of different policy options. The fourth Dublin descriptor, communication, is reflected in learning outcome S8, capable of reporting in English both orally and in writing and learning outcome S9, capable of presenting their results to both academic audience and to wider audiences;. The fifth Dublin descriptor, learning skills, is, for example, reflected in learning outcome S12, capable of learning new theories and methods and applying them outside their usual field. In addition, the committee QANU / Public Policy and Human Development, Maastricht University 23

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