Pilot in Graz
On March 1st, 2017, yet another Mastermind Europe pilot was conducted. This time in Graz and with two distinct Master’s programmes again: one on Sustainable Development and one on English and American studies. The pilot in Graz was special in two ways. One is that the Master’s in Sustainable Development in Graz is a joint degree programme with partners in Venezia, Leipzig, and Utrecht. Academics from these partner universities will also be invited to participate in the pilot – very much in line with the overall motto of Master’s admission for a diverse international classroom.
The second distinct feature is that the pilot was followed by a Mastermind Europe Focus Group meeting – also in Graz and also focusing on Master’s in the field of Sustainablity, Energy, Climate. Previous Focus Group participation was much broader in subject areas.
From the report on the Mastermind Europe pilot in Graz, by Dr Nancy Campbell:
The introduction of Joint Master’s programmes at Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz has posed a number of challenges, both academic and organisational. The academic coordinators have been able to resolve the academic issues among themselves, but setting up a Joint Degree also involves administrative questions, especially regarding admission. In the case of the programme which I coordinate, the Joint European Masters in English and American Studies, some participating universities such as Graz had no previous experience with selective admission. The process we set up was largely based on formal criteria and ‘commonsense’.
The Mastermind Europe pilot workshop helped us to identify appropriate admission criteria.
In particular, it helped us to find ways to make our admissions process more efficient and transparent as well as to find the right language to clarify what we expect students to know, understand, and be able to do when they start our programme. Additionally, it introduced us to some procedures that are available to assess general academic competence. It also helped us understand the potential pitfalls of trying to assess personal competencies: particularly relevant was the distinction in our admission process between what we are looking FOR (competences) and what we are looking AT (evidence).
To summarise, the workshop gave us tools to do what I’ve always wanted to do: to look beyond paper qualifications and identify students who can benefit most from the programme, thus avoiding “false positives” (unsuitable but admitted students) as well as “false negatives”(rejected but suitable students). The workshop was extremely useful as it opened my eyes to issues which I had not previously considered as well as to potential solutions. I hope that we will be able to incorporate at least some of the new ideas in our admissions procedure.