'This was a shock,' says ATLAS dean Heleen Miedema about the disappointing influx figures. 'Margot Kok's evaluation report certainly played a role.' The dean also cites the political internationalisation debate and the temporary recruitment freeze on international students as causes. In addition, marketing was not in order at ATLAS. 'Our marketer left in January and her successor started in June,' says Miedema.
She herself says she was under the assumption that this aspect was secured in the organisation. 'I did not interfere with this out of confidence, but should have checked it more closely. Following the evaluation report, there was a strong internal focus to improve things. We were less attentive to the outside world. We are now noticing the consequences of that.'
Lack of visibility
That has to change, according to the dean. 'We wrote a new business plan with a long-term budget, with marketing at the top of the priority list. At an intake of 50 students, we break even, that's where we need to go.' The lack of visibility is problematic, she continues. 'For the entire UT actually. Confronting was that in conversations with high school deans, we were told that they did not even know of our existence.'
Looking outside the door
Another part of the business plan is to offer certain parts of ATLAS externally. 'For teachers, we are setting up a Senior University Teaching Qualification track. In this, UT teachers can spend three years teaching in a semester within ATLAS and develop themselves and their teaching based on a self-selected teaching innovation. This can be done for UT teachers, but also for teachers from the Netherlands and other countries, following a personalised pathway.'
Students from outside ATLAS should also be able to take a semester at the University College, Miedema said. 'We can offer three semesters as integral parts. Not only to students within UT, as that would mean shifting money internally. Instead, we are also looking outside the door, nationally and internationally. If we attract many external students for such a semester, then that is a gain for both ATLAS and the UT.'
According to the ATLAS budget, twenty-five freshmen should enter in September 2024, rising to a stable number of 50 students by 2028. 'From that year, we have to be out of the red numbers,' says Miedema. 'As interim dean, I was given the task of making this a sustainable organisation. And that includes financial sustainability.'