This report contains an assessment of the quality of internationalisation at Maastricht University. The audit was performed by an international panel, convened by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders, during a site visit to Maastricht from 22 to 26 October 2018. The panel’s findings, considerations and conclusions are based on a dedicated self-evaluation report, additional materials illustrating Maastricht’s performance on internationalisation and a series of vivid discussions with different stakeholders, notably but not exclusively from the Faculty of Law.
According to the panel, Maastricht University fulfils the standards of the CeQuInt evaluation framework up to a level which systematically surpasses the generic quality that can be reasonably expected from an international perspective. In terms of intended internationalisation, the panel considers that internationalisation is embedded in the history, culture, spirit and identity of UM. As internationalisation is a fundamental constituent component of the university’s raison d’être, there is a strong match between the educational vision of the university, UM’s current Strategic Programme and its strategy on internationalisation. The internationalisation plans are not only well documented, but have been developed jointly and are now supported enthusiastically by all stakeholders within and outside UM. The plans contain clear goals and actions on a range of themes that befit the overall strategy on internationalisation. These goals are realistically ambitious, broken down in verifiable actions and impact on the quality of teaching and learning at UM. Hence, the panel assesses ’intended internationalisation’ to be excellent.
In terms of action plans, the panel considers that the internationalisation goals and objectives of Maastricht University are translated in adequate action plans and measures. These plans are relevant for the development of the entire university as internationalisation in its different dimensions has been, is, and continues to be an integral part of everyday life at UM. There is a clear link between the themes addressed in the internationalisation strategy and the university’s goal to increase the quality of its education. The panel thinks highly of the way in which several policies are pursued, for instance on the international classroom, the language policy, student recruitment and student mobility opportunities. Moreover, the university has put in place adequate structures and resources to ensure that internationalisation policies are executed effectively. Hence, the panel assesses ‘action plans’ to be excellent.
In terms of implementation, the panel considers that the university has a strong system in place to monitor and evaluate the quality of its education in general and the provisions of its internationalisation plans in particular. Data on internationalisation actions are gathered in a management information system that produces relevant quantitative data and qualitative reports. If anything, the university could formulate more precisely the internationalisation activities in the Strategic Programme and define exactly what is needed to monitor and evaluate these measures. Nonetheless, the university - both at central level and within the faculties - makes very good use of the data it collects because this information allows responsible bodies to take appropriate action. Moreover, the entire review process is documented carefully. Hence, the panel assesses ‘implementation’ to be good.
In terms of enhancement, the panel considers that UM has a comprehensive quality assurance system that pays particular attention to enhancement in terms of both systematic improvement and development. Since internationalisation is embedded across the university, there are many instruments and procedures in place to monitor the internationalisation actions, evaluate their execution and decide on their improvement. Moreover, the quality system relies on a strong commitment of both internal and external stakeholders. The university makes very good use of its ‘in-house’ expertise, but could benefit from gathering in a more systematic way input from stakeholders that are genuinely external to the university. Nonetheless, the panel is impressed by the many initiatives to enhance the quality of education following the results of both internal and external evaluations, as well as by the breadth of the activities and the depth with which reported flaws are taken up and communicated. Hence, the panel assesses ‘enhancement’ to be good.
In terms of governance, the panel considers that the new structure for internationalisation is strong and befits the organisational culture of the university, which thrives on participation in jointly set and centrally validated frameworks. This set-up is particularly suitable to gather timely input on internationalisation actions and goals from all levels of the organisation, as well as from external stakeholders. Moreover, the allocation of the internationalisation portfolio to the university President demonstrates that internationalisation is of very high importance to Maastricht, and this all the more so given the President’s strong track-record in internationalisation. Hence, the panel assesses ‘governance’ to be excellent.
Based on the written materials, the interviews on site and its internal deliberations, the panel considers Maastricht University in many respects as a ‘best-practice’ in internationalisation. According to the panel, the university is an example of what John Hudzik calls comprehensive internationalisation: “a commitment confirmed through action to infuse international and comparative perspectives throughout the teaching, research and service missions of higher education. It shapes institutional ethos and values and touches the entire higher education enterprise. It is essential that it be embraced by institutional leadership, governance, faculty, students, and all academic service and support units. Comprehensive internationalisation influences all of campus life, as well as the institution’s external frames of reference, partnerships and relations.”
In sum, the panel considers that Maastricht University fulfils each of the five standards of the CeQuInt assessment framework. Its overall judgement on the quality of internationalisation at Maastricht University is therefore positive.