Higher Level VET Programs and developing flexible pathways

higher level vet programs and developing flexible pathways (1)

What’s the Good Practice about?

higher level vet programs and developing flexible pathways (2)

In a so-called Quest project, students from ROC Midden Netherlands (Central Netherlands Regional Education and Training Centre) and students from University of Applied Science Utrecht work together on a current issue. These Quest projects combine the different educational backgrounds of the middle-level (VET) education in the college and the higher-level academic education from the University of Applied Sciences. A Quest project has a duration of twenty weeks. ROC MN students have participated twice now.

The first time participants had the task of redesigning an insulator for the overhead line of the streetcar. The main goal of the redesign was to reduce CO2 emissions focusing on the entire chain from production of the insulator to assembly of the insulator. A visit by a delegation from the insulator factory in the Czech Republic added an extra dimension to the assignment by requiring the students to present their designs and findings in English.

The second time, the assignment was an inspection and mapping of damage to quay walls. Through careful civil-engineering analysis, the current strength and service life of a quay can be determined and recorded in a qualification list. Based on this list, an informed decision can be made on the approach to be followed: restoration or improvement. It is up to the students to make a substantiated proposal. 3D-360° technology was used for mapping.


Why implementing the Good Practice? What are the special features of the Good Practice?

An important route in Dutch education is that from vocational training in colleges such as ROC MN to University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool). The percentage of college graduates who go directly to Universities of Applied Science has been declining for years, except for a brief revival in 2013 and 2014. At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of college level 4 graduates, that are able to continue with higher education. Currently most of these graduates start working in companies right away, as there are shortages of workers, and the companies offer good wages. So, the chance that VET students will move on to Universities of Applied Science decreases.

Some students at level 4 feel they have not yet finished learning or think it is too early to start working. However, among some students who may want to continue with higher professional education, there is uncertainty about whether they can handle it. A clear picture of what awaits in a higher professional education course and already gaining some experience in this at secondary vocational education, gives the starting student better chances of successfully completing a higher professional education course. Also, allowing students to work together at different levels and disciplines during their studies can positively contribute to greater collaborations in society.


higher level vet programs and developing flexible pathways (2)

What are the challenges in implementing the Good Practice? What’s the key to success?

One of the difficulties is finding a good guidance structure. VET students simply require different guidance than university students. VET students usually need clear frameworks to work towards. For university students, it is often part of the study to conduct independent research and make the connections between their findings. Part of the solution lies in making university students responsible for supervising VET students, and in particular for helping them conduct structured research.

higher level vet programs and developing flexible pathways (1)

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