By Ioana Murgoci
Photography by Emma Kappeyne
— Every semester AUC students go through the official curriculum check with their tutors to decide on future courses and review their three-year-long academic plan. This process used to pose a hurdle for students and college administrators. However, shortly after the start of the academic year, the new AUC Portal was launched and with it the registration process finally amended. The new platform was intended to replace both the AUC curriculum planner and the Student Information System (SIS) where the official course registration used to be carried out.
Rosa Stienstra, third-year Social Science major, says that “The AUC portal made the stages of the course registration process clearer as well as our curriculum reviewing and planning simpler than before. Also, what adds to the efficiency of the portal is that you can see everything about the course, its content, the times, the location. ” Despite the immediate results of the new Portal seen in last semester’s course registration, the story behind this project and the people most involved in its success are usually not among the main topics that are discussed within the AUC community.
As one of the main actors in the creation and implementation of the AUC Portal, the Board of Studies (BoS) is one of AUC’s advisory bodies along with the Student Council and the Works Council. Chair of the Board, Thijs Etty; second-year Humanities major Maud van der Berge; and third-year Science major Sofija Vuckovic agreed to discuss the board’s role in the development of the Portal.
The initiative to improve the registration process began with several complaints coming from students about difficulties during the registration period. In response, AUC’s Management Team formed a Course Registration Advisory Committee with the goal of reforming the registration process. The BoS and the Student Council acted as Participatory Governance Bodies to the new committee and provided advice throughout the process that ensured its continuity.
When asked whether the current AUC Portal is representative of what the BoS had in mind during the preliminary phase of development, Etty says: “Not yet. What we proposed to create is a one-stop-shop, meaning a Portal where everything that is related to course registration, the service desk, and the tutor communication is integrated. It is an ongoing process and we are very much looking forward to rolling up the next phases. It is fair to say that we have worked on this platform very hard. We adopted a hands-on approach in trying to tackle the previous registration process and we are very happy with the results so far.”
According to the BoS, the advisory bodies’ role in the project was crucial for its proper development and completion. Vuckovic says that “We were there to check if everything works well. We pointed out unclear points and any other inconsistencies.” Last October, several BoS members were present for a trial of the new Portal to identify areas of improvement. Van der Berge explains that they identified several initial problems, “For example, one issue after the informal launch was that the prerequisite for a class was not recognised if you were enrolled in it at the time you registered for that class.”
After the official launch of AUC Portal, most of the immediate reactions were positive and the AUC community showed substantial support for this project. Co-chair of the Student Council, Bart Knibbe says “AUC Portal, as we have heard from many students already, is intuitive in use and easy to work with.”
However, the board recognises that there are always ways to improve the final product and are determined to perfect students’ experience with the Portal in the future. Van der Berge emphasises: “We are always looking for things that can be improved. This is at the discretion of the students themselves. Starting this month, we are going to have office hours every Tuesday in one of the project rooms on the third floor during lunch break. You can talk about anything academic or curriculum-related to us such as community projects, internships, and capstone.”
Going forward, the BoS and AUC’s Management Team say they aim to improve the course evaluation process, specifically by looking into how the information gathered is being processed. Vuckovic and Van der Berge say that they are also working very closely with the Student Council and add that “these problems, and many others at AUC, are more complicated than they seem and people cannot assume that AUC does not care about solving them. We are big achievers and it might seem that there is no improvement in a particular matter, but looking back it is pretty amazing to see how much we have done.”