New ATLAS report: 'Optimism about the future'

| Rense Kuipers

'Successful new leadership', 'improved atmosphere', 'more structure in education' and 'optimism about the future'. The new evaluation report on ATLAS is positive about the state of affairs at the University College.

Photo by: Frans Nikkels

The report is a follow-up to the earlier report by external researcher Margot Kok, which was published in early 2022. That report was very critical of the situation at ATLAS. There was talk of an 'unsafe environment at all levels', dissatisfaction and lack of common goals, management, communication and positioning.

'Substantially different atmosphere'

This new report was also written by Kok, director of education policy at Utrecht University. She interviewed ten people involved – both students and staff, some of whom had also been interviewed for the earlier evaluation report. Her findings are now very positive. Kok describes a 'substantially different atmosphere' during the interviews compared to two years ago and draws positive conclusions about the educational structure and vision, improved cooperation and atmosphere and, above all, leadership.

After the previous evaluation report, Heleen Miedema was appointed dean of University College Twente. She later combined that position with that of programme director. 'The new leadership is described as decisive, but open to discussion and with an emphasis on transparency and cooperation', Kok writes, quoting: 'The dean is firm, has pace, and gives space.'


The external researcher concludes that there is now 'optimism about the future of University College Twente' and that there is ‘a commitment to keep on improving and adapting to meet the evolving needs of staff and students. And not stop now, after the first accomplishments have been made’.

This conclusion is in stark contrast to the earlier 'unsafe environment at all levels', which is now not being mentioned anymore. Although Kok does add a few caveats. She writes that there are only two years between this report and the previous one. A lot has changed, but the time was still too short for a complete cultural change, according to Kok, who writes that a 'small part of the staff members have not experienced the whole change process'. 'Within this group, there are still misunderstandings about past events and how they are currently being handled. Restoring trust with this group will be challenging and take time,’ the report says.


Kok also points to some concerns for the future: Miedema – whose appointment has been extended until January 2025 – will say goodbye in the short term. Kok therefore points to the 'challenge of maintaining this leadership style in the succession'. But above all, the researcher points to concerns about the number of students at the university college. Last September, only nine first-year students enrolled. That needs to improve, Kok writes, because 'it's crucial to have a healthy cohort size'. The ambition of ATLAS is to welcome at least 25 first-year students in September.

The report ends with the conclusion that a lot of work has been done in recent years to achieve structural changes. And that the programme can look to the future, says Kok. 'Now that there is more stability in the programme, there will be more time to invest in carrying out the regular tasks and processes.'

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