The first public-private partnership in a Dutch Honours programme, the Honours Master’s programme in High Tech Systems & Materials at the University of Groningen, will continue until 2022. The unique structure of the programme, the satisfaction of participating students and companies, and the growing interest from students and high-tech companies are all reasons for the decision.
On Friday July 13th the three student teams of the HTSM Honours Master will present the results of their summer school work to the industrial partners of the program, the honours team and the panel of expert of the program. The teams are comprised of students from different master studies of the Universities of Groningen and Twente. Their study background ranges from Pharmacy over Industrial Engineering & Management to Physics & Nanotechnology.
There are many high-tech companies in the northern Netherlands. Although primarily product developers in the top sector of High Tech Systems and Materials (HTSM), they do come from other top sectors too, such as Chemistry and Energy. A significant challenge for these companies in the coming years will be to find highly qualified knowledge workers with expertise in research, innovation and product development. In 2014 the UG joined forces with Philips Consumer Lifestyle and the University of Twente to develop a three-year pilot programme to ensure a better match between academic training and the field of HTSM: the HTSM Honours Master’s programme. This extracurricular programme aims to fire students’ enthusiasm for research and development in the HTSM sector and retain talent for the job market in the north.
HTSM is the first public-private partnership in a Dutch Honours programme and gained full accreditation in 2014 within the Sirius Excellence Programme of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The HTSM Honours Master’s programme is offered by the Honours College, in close collaboration with the Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials.
The HTSM Honours Master’s programme is a 20-ECTS talent programme that Science & Engineering students can follow alongside their regular Master’s programme. Students who successfully complete the selection procedure work in multidisciplinary teams on real-life issues faced by high-tech companies in the north. The programme comprises various masterclasses and workshops that prepare the teams to develop and present a product proposal and action plan. A panel of experts, including representatives from the HTSM sector, assesses the quality and feasibility of the product proposals. Once the panel has approved the proposals, the teams manufacture the products during a three-week Summer School at the participating companies. The students conclude the programme with an individual project of their own choosing within the HTSM sector.
What is unique about this programme is the intensive collaboration with business. The participating companies and product development issues change each year, and guest lecturers teach some of the masterclasses. This requires flexibility and commitment from both the teaching organization and the participating companies. The HTSM Honours Master’s programme also has a strong quality assurance framework. Feedback from students and participating businesses is used to ensure that the programme meets their requirements. This is just one reason for the high level of satisfaction among the students and participating companies.
Alongside Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Astron has been a permanent partner in the programme since 2016. Other companies from the Innovation Cluster Drachten have also participated, including BD Kiestra (2016/2017) and Delta Instruments (2017/2018). In addition, Demcon and Tata Steel have contributed to the programme with workshops and site excursions. The programme is becoming more diverse and attractive as increasing numbers of companies express an interest in and sign up for the programme. This is reflected in the number of student enrolments, which increases every year.
The pilot phase of the HTSM Honours Master’s programme, one of whose sponsors is the Province of Fryslân, ended in 2017. The positive results led the companies and UG departments involved (Honours College, Faculty of Science & Engineering and the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials) to voice their support for the programme’s continuation. The Board of the University recently approved this. The HTSM Honours Master’s programme will continue until academic year 2021/2022, when it will again be evaluated.
The programme coordinators, Prof. Katja Loos and Vanessa van Hest, would love to hear from companies who are interested in participating in the HTSM Honours Master’s programme. Please contact them at
. Students interested in participating in the programme in 2018/2019 can see the website for more information.
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