Mastermind Europe Final Conference

On July 5-7 2017, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will host an international conference on Master’s admission for a diverse international classroom, which will bring together academics, researchers and practitioners to discuss how Master’s admission needs to evolve in the context of globalisation and the ongoing Bologna process.

Who should attend?

This conference is for deans of faculties and schools, coordinators of Master’s programmes, policy makers and university administrators at faculty, university and national level.

It offers knowledge, expertise and understanding of current practice, trends and debates on the recruitment, selection, and admission of applicants to their programmes.

You will be introduced into the Mastermind Europe Tools to create a diverse (international) Master’s classroom in the post-Bologna era in European Higher Education – and a platform to exchange experience with colleagues in similar positions.

Topics will include alternative approaches to traditional diploma recognition, to the paradigm shift this entails, to development of an internal and external coherent admission framework – and many other issues that provide food for thought on matters of validity, transparency and efficiency.

General Information

The conference is the key dissemination event of the Mastermind Europe project. This ERASMUS+ project from September 2014 until September 2017 has developed and tested Guiding Tools and supporting material for Master’s programmes with a need to adapt admission to suit a diverse international classroom. The tools help to move towards admission based on assessment of relevant competencies and thus improve selection validity and efficiency, transparency in the recruitment process as well as generate more relevant feedback into and beyond the teaching and learning.

The Guiding Tools and other key publications of the Mastermind Europe project will be part of the conference package

Reflecting the Bologna process, the general process of globalisation and other developments in both higher education and the society and economy at large, Master’s programmes in Europe are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of the students they seek to attract, the mix of subject areas they address, and the post-graduation roles for which they prepare. Application by students from a variety of disciplines, universities, and nationalities is rapidly changing from an exception to the new normal. This paradigm shift in the identity of Master’s programmes also requires a paradigm shift in the approach to admission. The new normal of diversity requires that applicants should be assessed against an objective yardstick defined by the exigencies of the Master’s programme rather than the subjective yardstick of the ‘old normal’ of domestic students of the  en suite  sequence of one Bachelor’s and ‘its’ ensuing Master’s degree.

This paradigm shift in Master´s programmes and Master´s admission has been the key focus of the Mastermind Europe project, but it can be observed much more broadly in Europe.

The international conference on Master’s admission for a diverse international classroom – although serving also as key dissemination event of the ERASMUS+ project – aims to bring a much broader constituency of deans of Faculties and schools, coordinators of Master’s programmes, policymakers and university administrators at faculty, university and national level who observe the paradigm shift and the need to adapt Master’s admission to it.

Programme Overview

The conference Master’s admission for a diverse classroom will take place at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, which is located in the Amsterdam business district with excellent train and air connections.

It will run from Thursday July 6th 9 am until Friday July 7th 1 pm. There will be an informal welcoming event on Wednesday evening July 5th and a conference dinner on Thursday evening July 6th.

The programme will have limited number of plenary sessions with invited speakers representing the European perspective, a national perspective and a university’s perspective on the subject and a presentation of the Mastermind Europe tools.

The main body of the conference will consist of parallel sessions in which the selected session proposals will be presented.

Download full programme as PDF

July 5, 2017

17:00 – 20:30 Informal opening reception (De Bazel, Amsterdam City Centre)
18:00 Word of welcome & conversation starter – Kees Kouwenaar
18:10 Music – Frisse wind
19:00 – 20:30 Tours through the building

July 6, 2017

9:00 – 10:30 Opening plenary
9:00 Welcome to VU VU Rector Vinod Subramaniam
9:05 Opening Conference chair Peter van der Hijden
9:15 University perspective Mareanne Karssen, VU Programme Manager Education
9:40 The European perspective Sarah Lynch, Head of section for Higher Education Policy, European Commission DG Education, Youth, Sports & Culture
10:10 A national perspective Peter Greisler – Head of Directorate Universities, Federal Ministry of Education, Germany
10:40 Mastermind Europe Kees Kouwenaar
11:00 – 11:30 Break
11:30 – 13:00 Parallel sessions see details below
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch break
14:00 – 15:30 Parallel sessions see details below
15:30 – 16:00 Coffee break
16:00 – 17:30 Parallel sessions see details below
17:30 – 18:30 Conference reception Campus Cafeteria
18:30 – 22:00 Conference dinner Campus Cafeteria

July 7, 2017

9:00 – 9:45 Plenary introducing Mastermind tools: coherent admission framework Kees Kouwenaar
10:00 – 11:00 Parallel sessions see details below
11:00 – 11:30 Coffee break
11:30 – 12:30 Parallel sessions see details below
12:30 – 13:00 Closing

Plenary Programme

July 6, 2017

9:15 – 9:40 Present and future of Master’s education at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Mareanne Karssen – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Like many other research intensive universities in Europe, VU has gone through the process that Master’s changed from being the second half of a fixed “B+M” trajectory into a degree programme in its own right. Mareanne Karssen, will reflect on what this has meant and will mean in the coming years at the Vrije Universiteit for diverse aspects like purpose and learning outcomes, classroom composition, curricula and T&L methods, as well as entrance requirements and admission.
9:40 – 10:10 Present and future of Master’s education in the European Higher Education Area and the area of the Bologna process
Sarah Lynch, Head of section for Higher Education Policy, European Commission DG Education, Youth, Sports & Culture
The European Higher Education Area and the Bologna process are cherished and embraced by a large constituency. A EC representative will discuss how a diverse and international Master´s classroom is pivotal to many of their key objectives: Free mobility of students and graduates, Master´s degrees as a self-standing part of the HE degree structures, clearly articulated learning outcomes that prepare for a globalised society and economy, development of cognitive and personal skills in addition to high-level expertise.
10:10 – 10:40 Master’s admission for a diverse international classroom in the Federal Republic of Germany
Peter Greisler – Federal Ministry of Education, Germany
Germany as a federal state has its own complexities, also in Higher Education and HE reform. Peter Greisler, director for Higher Education at the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, will reflect where the German universities stand in the development of the Bachelor´s-Master´s degree structure. Notions of ‘right’ or ‘fitness’ for admission, the focus on subject matter and more general personal skills of university graduates, and the steering roles of various levels of a multi-layered HE system within the European Higher Education Area will be part of this conversation.
10:40 – 11:00 Mastermind Europe: responding to the paradigm shift in European Higher Education
Kees Kouwenaar – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
The Mastermind Europe project is an Erasmus+ sponsored initiative to respond to post Bologna changes in European HE by developing tools for an admission process that is better grounded in relevant entrance criteria and valid assessment mechanisms. Kees Kouwenaar, senior advisor international strategy and coordinator of the project, will tell the project’s story and highlight some of its achievements and challenges. In addition, he will introduce the programme of concurrent sessions to assist participants in choosing the sessions that are most relevant for their situation.

July 7, 2017

9:00 – 9:45 Introduction of the Mastermind Tools: A Coherent Admission Framework
Kees Kouwenaar – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
On Friday morning, Kees Kouwenaar will introduce the main components of the Mastermind Europe toolkit and the coherent admission framework at it aims to facilitate for Master’s programmes in Europe that strive for a more diverse and international classroom. He will explain the framework of categories of admission criteria, how to improve the validity of testing for these criteria, and how to achieve coherence within the admission process as well as with the objective and curriculum of the Master’s and the chain of student services.

For information on the parallel session, see the downloadable overview.

Download full programme as PDF

Speaker Information

Vinod Subramaniam

Vinod Subramaniam (b. 1967) has served as Rector Magnificus and member of the Executive Board of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam since 2015, focusing on the ideal conditions for excellence in research and education.

He studied electrical engineering at Cornell and received his PhD in 1996 from the University of Michigan (USA) in applied physics.

He worked at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen (Germany) and at AstraZeneca in the UK. In 2004 he became professor at the University of Twente serving as scientific director of MIRA: the UT Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, which focuses on the interplay between research (basic and applied). In September 2013, Professor Subramaniam was appointed Director of the FOM Institute AMOLF in Amsterdam.

Peter Greisler

Peter Greisler studied law in Erlangen and Mainz (Germany) and in France and Great Britain. He started his professional career at the then Federal Ministry for Research and Technology in 1991, where he worked in different areas ranging from international nuclear energy policy and other international affairs to staff, cabinet and parliamentary issues and research for sustainability, science and society.

He has been Head of the BMBF’s Higher Education Directorate since 2004. His responsibilities include the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), higher education legislation, social issues regarding university studies (BAföG training assistance), the promotion of young researchers, the internationalization of universities and continuing education at higher education institutions.

Peter van der Hijden

Peter van der Hijden is an independent higher education expert from Maastricht, the Netherlands. He studied law and worked at university before joining the European Commission in Brussels. Former Head of Sector Higher Education Policy, Peter helped to build the Erasmus programme, the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Process) and the EU Modernisation Agenda for Higher Education. He also contributed to Horizon 2020 and the European Research Area (ERA). Peter currently acts as board member, advisor and moderator for public authorities, non-governmental organisations, companies, universities and networks.

Kees Kouwenaar

Kees Kouwenaar is senior advisor international strategy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where he also was director of the Centre for International Cooperation. He was responsible for a new comprehensive internationalisation strategy and a reorganised comprehensive VU International office. He currently is coordinating the Mastermind Europe project and various other projects and edits a biweekly Newsletter International Strategy.

Before 2008, he held senior management positions in legal development cooperation, HE internationalisation and credential evaluation. He  played key roles for the Lisbon Recognition Convention of 1997. He served as chairman of the NARIC network and EAIE´s professional section for admission& credential evaluation. Kees has presented/chaired at numerous conferences in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.

Mareanne Karssen

Mareanne Karssen studied political Science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In the course of her carreer, she worked at Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam, its Academic Medical Centre, and Vrije Universiteit in various positions in policy development and management. She was director of the Faculty of Social Sciences at VU for 6 years before she became Programme Manager education in 2013.

Sarah Lynch

Sarah Lynch studies German and English at Trinity College, Dublin. She joined the European Commission in 2004 and has held numerous positions there, dealing with financial services, business-to-consumer services, communications, and the investment plan for Europe. In March 2017, she joined the Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sports & Culture as Head of Section for Higher Education Policy.


Thanks to the support by the European Commission and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Conference fee for a 3-day conference could be limited to € 120 per participant for early registration (before June 1st) and € 150 for late registration. The Conference fee includes the Mastermind Europe Guiding Tools and Publications set, the welcome reception on Wednesday July 5th, and lunch and dinner on Thursday 6th. It does not include accommodation in Amsterdam.

The project uses EventBrite as the platform to handle registrations and conference fee payment. EventBrite is paid through a small topping up on the conference fee; so registrants pay a slightly higher amount than the € 120 (early rate) and € 150 (late rate) that we list.

Participants will receive information on the conference venue, on travelling to Amsterdam, accommodation and transportation in Amsterdam, as well as general Amsterdam information after registration.

Sign up for the conference


Practical Information

We have made block reservations in the following hotels to be booked by the participants themselves.

Apollo Hotel Amsterdam Centre Zuid
Apollolaan 2, Amsterdam
( tram 5 gives direct connection to VU)

Apollo Museum Hotel Amsterdam City Centre
PC Hoofstraat 2, Amsterdam
(tram 5 gives direct connection to VU)

Delphi Hotel Amsterdam Centre Zuid
Apollolaan 101-105, Amsterdam
(tram 5 gives direct connection to VU)

WestCord Fashion Hotel Amsterdam Centre Zuid
Hendrikje Stoffelstraat 1, Amsterdam
(Metro 51 gives direct connection to VU)

Use the following link and the password VU0717 (case-sensitive) to make a reservation:

Call for Proposals

Get more information on the Call for Proposals and how to submit a proposal

Call for Proposals

An open Call for Proposals has been distributed through the website and various relevant channels (EUA, EAIE, EAIR, NAGAP), soliciting proposals for sessions or for presentations that may be grouped into coherent sessions.

Relevant themes include – but are not limited to – topics such as:

  • Bologna follow-up in national context
  • Open access Master’s programmes
  • Diverse international classroom
  • Applicants from non-research universities
  • Competence-based admission
  • Cost-efficient admission
  • Diversity of Bachelors in the classroom

As part of the conference programme, presentations will be scheduled on the tools that have been developed and tested in the Mastermind Europe project, possibly by combining them in sessions with relevant topical presentations.

The tools of the Mastermind Europe project are:


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