`Everyone is really committed, even the less talented students'

The difference between teaching at the UU andUCU

`Everyone is really committed, even the less talentedstudents'

Smaller groups. Ask the teaching staff about the bigdifference between teaching at University College or teaching atUtrecht University, and no doubt the answer will be: smallergroups. They think that the more intimate setting of a maximum of25 students makes for better interaction between students andteachers.

At the beginning of this year, J. Fokker taught an introductorycourse Programming at University College. He teaches a similarcourse at Utrecht University. In the Uithof he has the floorhimself for two hours. In the former Kromhout Barracks Fokkeralternates

five minutes of lecturing and five minutes of practical work,and likes it. "A smaller group enables me to see what they don'tunderstand and why. During a standard lecture, 150 students justsit there gazing at me with a blank stare."

In the first semester at University College, R. Janse was one ofthe teachers of the Law, Society and Justice course. He soonnoticed that the students got to know each other much faster thanat the university. "It made them less shy in class and their activeparticipation was very striking." Because lectures were scheduledfor three instead of two hours, Janse was able to use a largervariety of teaching methods, such as holding parliamentary debatesand presenting speeches.

Professor Robben teaches two anthropology courses at UniversityCollege. He also used a number of discussion models. "Usually, atUniversity College a seminar is not half taken up by an explanationof the literature, as it is at the university. The students havesimply read and studied the literature, which saves a lot of time."Robben also thinks that the College students' attitude clearlydistinguishes them from their University counterparts. "There's amore competitive atmosphere. At the university too, there are verygood and hard working students, but there is also a large groupthat only reads the fixed literature and some are even cuttingcorners. I don't see that happening at University College. Everyoneis really committed, even the less talented students."

Feed back

Professor Robben is convinced that his teaching method is thesame at University College and the university. "Everyone has hisown set of habits." The other staff members also claim not to haveadapted their teaching styles,

although they claim to be able to spot failing teaching methodssoonerdue to the much faster feed-back. In addition, all threeteachers point out that they expect more from the College students:better exam results, better papers, and better assignments.According to Rob-ben, the international students gain from this`do-not-hesitate-to-ask-for-more' UC philosophy, even though lastyear students apparently felt the need for a `break week'. "TheUniversity programme is aimed at the average student and,therefore, denies better students a challenge. The College takesthe level of the best students as its point of departure. Studentslike that better."

The teaching staff also appreciates the fact that the attendanceof the lectures is nearly compulsory. Absentees are tackled ontheir conduct by their tutors. Fokker: "At University thefluctuating attendance breaks any continuity in the lectures. Halfthe time is spent telling students what they missed last time atthe expense of the students who did attend and are getting bored."What Fokker does not like about the College system is that he isbeing pushed into the role of informer: he is to report absentstudents to their tutors, whereas he may prefer to deal with thestudents himself.

However, Jeroen Fokker would like to comment on all the words ofpraise...: " College students are in fact more diligent and eagerto learn. They all meet the assignment deadlines and, contrary toUniversity customs, they consider it part of their culture todiscuss the

homework at the end of classes. That stereo-type is more or lesscorrect. But from time to time College students too go out partyingon a workaday Wednesday night and they too some-times skippreparing the lectures. They too are ordinary people. And maybethat is for the best ..."

Xander Bronkhorst

Members of the teaching staff mention severaladvantages and disadvantages of University College:


smaller groups

compulsory attendance


no time lost due to


various cultural back-grounds


no library

students lack the time to keep abreast of the world news