Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences welcomes manifesto future-proof economic professional education

    20 July 2020

    On 15 July, an independent Think Tank presented the manifesto 'Free Zones' to the administrators of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Albeda and Zadkine.

    It is a manifesto with seven recommendations to ensure that economic professional education in Rotterdam will be future-proof. For example, the Think Tank recommends Free Zones with increased room for the innovation of education and in which cross-border collaboration can take place between regional training centres, universities of applied sciences and the business community.

    "I think it's very good that leading people from outside the educational field have taken a good look at our economic education, a domain which is very important from an economic and social point of view. I thank them very much," said Ron Bormans, Chairman of the Executive Board. "The fact that this has been undertaken is in keeping with professional education. And their advice is very valuable and will also be welcomed by the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, a major player in this domain with 16,000 students.

    The immediate motivation for this manifesto was a series of reports and studies on the alleged imbalance between economic study programmes and labour market demand. Ron Bormans: "In the past, the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences has suggested whether we should not also pay attention to the size of the economic domain. The effects of Covid-19 on the economic situation may raise this question more emphatically in the coming years. Based on our social responsibility, the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences believes that we as professional educators should continue to keep an eye on the quantitative balance in our supply of education."


    At the end of 2019, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Albeda and Zadkine joined forces and commissioned an independent Think Tank, with members from outside the educational field, to take a fresh look at the problem. A unique initiative in which the institutions exchanged large amounts of data and worked together intensively.

    In the manifesto, the Think Tank identifies the most important challenges for economic professional education. For example, the large drop-out rate of students in this domain, the changing labour market and the speed with which educational programmes are, or can be developed. Due to the different systems used by regional training centres and universities of applied sciences, educational innovations are isolated too much from the other institutions.


    In response to the above challenges, the Think Tank concludes that change in economic professional education is imperative at present. It is necessary to be able to offer the 23,000 students in economic professional education in Rotterdam a good future perspective.

    The Think Tank recognises opportunities in innovative 'zones' with increased degrees of freedom for innovation of the curriculum, funding and cross-border cooperation within and between the regional training centres and universities of applied sciences, across the sectors and with the professional field. This can result in a double degree for the student.

    The Think Tank also advocates the sharing of data on the development of the required knowledge and skills in the market. This will be realised in a joint regional data centre to closely monitor future developments per sector as well as the inflow, through-flow and outflow of students in the Rotterdam region. In addition, the administrators are encouraged to jointly assess the available regional education on the basis of the demand of the labour market and to continue the cooperation that has been initiated. Finally, the government is also called upon to take measures to promote the innovative capacity of education. The institutions must be able to develop licences for innovative professional education.

    The administrators were inspired by the advice of the Think Tank and by signing this manifesto they acknowledge their joint mission. Zakia Guernina, member of the Executive Board, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and pioneer of the exploration is very satisfied with the result. "The advice of the Think Tank is recognisable and valuable. There is still a lot of work to be done to translate this into tangible results and we are going to get to work immediately, together with the institutions and the business community in the fields of IT, healthcare and technology, in order to achieve the crossovers in professional education. I am very grateful to every member of Think Tank and look forward to our further collaboration in the process of implementing their advice."

    The Think Tank consists of six members: Miriam Hoekstra-van der Deen (Director Airport Operations of Schiphol), Mai Elmar (Director Cruise Port Rotterdam), Barbara Kathmann (Vice-Mayor for Economy in Rotterdam), Laamia Elyounoussi (Director Schone Zaak), Marc van der Meer (Honorary Professor Education and Labour Market) and Ludo Baauw (CEO Intermax Group).

    For additional information about the exploration, the Think Tank, the manifesto and all reactions of board members involved, visit the website: Verkenning Toekomst Economisch Beroepsonderwijs Rotterdam.