It was a great honour to have met so many colleagues from all over the world at the Utrecht Honours Conference 2016. Students, lecturers, educational leaders, policy staff & employers, with many different backgrounds, but with one passion in common: good honours education for the students who want to get the best out of themselves and who want to make the difference in our world of tomorrow.
We look back on three interesting and inspiring conference days and a post-conference day afterwards, to start with the pre-conference on Wednesday. We have visited different departments of the Utrecht University and the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, where we discussed all kinds of aspects of honours education. Because we were with a small group, we had a lot of time to discuss more in-depth the students’ honours experiences and to share our ideas. The participants have appreciated especially the contributions of the honours students and the assignments that the students have done with them, a good example of practice what you preach.
And then, the two conference days: two days of immersion in honours from all kinds of perspectives in many different forms. A short impression of reactions of participants we like to share in this short review:
“It was great to participate in the breakdown sessions. Interesting exchange of ideas and best practices. Meetings with employers gave me an insight in necessary qualities of young professionals: leadership (‘’we need leaders and not managers’’); project management, communication and collaborating skills (‘’professionals have to work in interdisciplinary teams’’); drive and intrinsic motivation (‘’we need professionals who really want to change the world’’); ability to work in international environments (‘’global issues and complex questions concerning global challenges’’); wish to take part in competition (‘’young professionals from third world countries, India, and China will take part in worldwide project-challenges’’).”
“The breakdown sessions have made me think of the political dilemma: how do political parties in different countries deal with talented high-educated students in relation to students with less gifted students?”
“I have learnt a lot about the ways the institutions for higher education want to challenge and stimulate their gifted students. I have seen small tailor-made honours tracks and the complete interdisciplinary honours programmes with all kinds of options between these two extremes.”
These quotes show the broad spectrum of the issues related to honours that we discussed during these days. We want to thank all visitors of the Utrecht Honours Conference 2016 and we hope that you have enjoyed these days as much as we did and that we have strengthened the added value of Honours in our education, in the academic and professional working fields and in society.
Annelies Riteco, Honours Director Utrecht University of Applied Sciences
Rob van der Vaart, Honours Dean Utrecht University